Traditional French male names are those names that have been used in France for centuries. Many of them were the names of French kings and saints.
Below is a detailed overview of a dozen of these names, followed by a list of several dozen more.
François is an unmistakably French name. Not only does it have a distinctly French spelling, with the cedilla under the 'c', but in addition, it is etymologically related to the word “France”.
Like most traditional French names, there was a saint who had this name. Saint François d'Assise (known in English as “Saint Francis of Assisi”) was the founder of the Franciscan order in the Catholic Church.
It was also the name of a French king, François 1er (known in English as “Francis I”) who ruled France during the early 16th century.
In more recent times, it has been the name of two French presidents, François Mitterrand and François Hollande.
Louis is another traditional French name that has been borne by both kings and saints. In fact, Louis IX was a French king who became canonized as a saint. An island in the heart of Paris —the Île Saint-Louis— is named after him.
Louis was the first name of 18 different kings of France, beginning with Louis the Pious, the son of Charlemagne, up to Louis-Philippe, the last king who ruled France.
The name Jacques has been in use in France for centuries. For example, Jacques Cartier was a 16th-century French navigator who sailed to the North American continent and is credited with giving Canada its name.
In the 20th century, a well-known person with this name was the French president Jacques Chirac.
Jean is a traditional French name that has been used in France for centuries. For example, Jean de La Fontaine was a 17th-century French poet known for his famous collection of fables which oftentimes featured animals.
This name is used in combination with other names to form compound names such as Jean-Pierre, Jean-Luc, or Jean-Claude.
Marcel is a classic French name that was quite popular in France during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Famous figures with this name include two French novelists: the first, Marcel Proust is known for his influential seven-part novel “In Search of Lost Time”. The second, Marcel Pagnol wrote novels that revolve around provincial life in his native Provence, in southeastern France.
“Émile” is a classic French that appears in the title of a famous philosophical work by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Émile, or On Education,” which was published in 1762.
The 19th-century French author Émile Zola is another well-known person with this name.
“Jules” is a traditional French name that is derived from the Latin name Julius. By the way, in French, the Roman emperor Julius Caesar is called “Jules César”.
Famous French historical figures with this name include Jules Verne, the author of “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas” and “Around the World in Eighty Days”, as well as Jules Ferry, an influential French statesman and advocate for education reform in the late 19th century, who now has several hundred schools throughout France named after him.
Pierre is a classic French name that is the equivalent of the English name Peter. This is a name with biblical origins, as Saint Peter (Saint Pierre in French) was one of the apostles and a key figure in Christianity.
French historical figures named Pierre include Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee which established the modern Olympic Games, and Pierre Curie, a French physicist whose research on radioactivity conducted with his wife Marie Curie, led them to both receive a Nobel Prize.
Charles is a classic name in English; it is also a classic name in French. This name was in use in the ancient Frankish kingdom, known as “Francia”, from which the country of France evolved. In fact, Charles Martel was a Frankish ruler and the grandfather of Charlemagne (“Charles the Great”)
In all, there were no fewer than 10 French kings named Charles, from Charles I (better known as Charlemagne) to Charles X.
Visitors to France oftentimes arrive through the Charles de Gaulle Airport, named in honor of another French statesman named Charles. Charles de Gaulle was a leader of the French resistance during WW2, who became president of the French Republic.
The French name Georges ends with an ‘s’ whereas the English version (George) doesn’t. Both forms, however, originate from Ancient Greek.
Many renowned individuals in French history had the name Georges. For instance, Georges Pompidou was a French president with a passion for modern art (the Pompidou Museum in Paris is named after him).
There are also two well-known French musicians with this name. Georges Brassens was a songwriter and singer who became an iconic figure in French popular music. The second one is Georges Bizet, a French composer who is famous for his opera, Carmen.
Antoine is a classic French name that originates from the Latin name “Antonius”; It has the same origin as the English name Antony.
A well-known historical figure with this name is Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. He was a French writer, poet, and aviator. He is best known for his novella, “The Little Prince” (Le Petit Prince).
André is a time-honored French name that has the same Ancient Greek origin as the English name Andrew.
The name André has been used in France for many hundreds of years. For instance, one of the earliest known French historical figures with this name was André de Montbard, one of the members of the Knights Templar in the 12th century.
Maurice is a classic French name that carries a sense of elegance and sophistication. It is derived from the Latin name “Mauritius”.
There are a few famous French musicians named Maurice. For example, Maurice Ravel was a French composer best known for his composition Boléro, and Maurice Chevalier was a French actor, cabaret singer, and entertainer.