Surnames are like bridges, which connect a family’s past to the present. First name trends may come and go, but last names are forever. Surnames in France originated from occupations, locations, and personal names. Read on to find a curated list of 100 French last names or surnames.
100 French Last Names or Family Names with Meanings
The following traditional and classic old French surnames with their meanings can inspire you to select the perfect surname for your family or get ready for the naming ceremony for your baby.
In 1474, under a decree passed by the king of France, all changes to last names had to be first approved by him. This made it easier to trace family history, as all name changes were recorded. Due to colonization, French surnames can be found in English-speaking countries, and have influenced African and Arabic surnames, too. Their phonetic spelling and pronunciation change depending on the local culture and language. Most common French last names have a Germanic origin, as there was frequent migration between France and Germany.
In France, the father’s name forms patronymic surnames, while the mother’s name forms matronymic surnames. These surnames are derived directly from the parent’s given name. Others can be based on the particular occupation of an individual, or can be geographical or descriptive in nature. This comprehensive list of French surnames is quite appealing, and if you have a French last name, can help you trace back the lines of your family history.
Abadie derives from the word ‘abadia’ which means ‘abbey’ or ‘family chapel’. It was made famous by the Spanish economist Alberto Abadie.
This French surname is a variant of the word abreu, and it means ‘a wise counsellor’. This family name belongs to the ancient house of Normandy that came into use via the Countship of Évreux, France.
This French surname is reflex of the Visigothic personal name Alaric, and means ‘all-powerful’.
This old French surname has Germanic origin, and means ‘noble’.
Derived from the word anull that is the Catalan language dominantly used in southern France, Anouilh means ‘slow worm’.
Aubert means ‘noble-bright’ and originates from the Old German compound word Aedelbeort.
This occupational surname refers to someone ‘who minds cattle at night.’ The second origin is as a habitational name that comes from the southern French town of Auch.
A derivative of the word Badar, this surname comes from the Occitan word badau, meaning ‘gullible’. It can also mean ‘to gape’ or ‘to be open-mouthed’.
Bain is an occupational surname that is derived from a Middle English word bains. It refers to ‘an attendant at a public bathhouse’ or simply ‘bath’ in Old French.
Derived from Anglo-Norman French, this occupational surname means ‘barber’.
Derived from Old French, Basset is an occupational surname that means ‘low’ or ‘short’. It refers to a person of humble origins, or a short person.
This smooth-sounding French surname refers to ‘small sword’ or ‘dagger’.
This distinguished geographical surname means ‘beautiful hill’.
Cadieux is an ancient surname that is derived from the word cad and refers to a ‘little fighter’.
Derived from the Latin word Carbo, this surname means ‘carbon’ or charcoal’. People with dark hair or a swarthy complexion are mostly the bearers of this name.
This Anglo-Norman French word has an aboriginal origin. This occupational surname means ‘a person who worked as a transporter of goods.’
This topographic surname denotes ‘a person who lives by a shrine’. In Old French, it means ‘chapel’.
This French surname was first found in Normandy and refers to a ‘goat herder’. It originates from a region in the Lot department of France.
More common in Italy, DeRose is applicable for ‘a person with a rosy complexion’.
This ancient surname is a topographic name or a habitational name that refers to ‘from the marsh’. It can also be the plural of jardin ‘garden’ in French.
21. De Villiers
Derived from the name of the tendril vrilles, this occupational surname refers to ‘a person who planted or worked on vrilles’.
22. Du Bellay
One among the best royal French last names, Du Bellay belongs to the French noble family who lived in the historic Anjou region in the 12th century.
This French habitational surname is quite popular and means ‘of the bridge’ or ‘a person living near a bridge’.
This word from Old French or Norman origin means ‘enduring’.
This French surname is similar to the English surname Edwards from Olde English and means ‘a prosperous guardian’.
Edwards originated from Olde English pre-7th century era and refers to ‘prosperity guard’.
This occupational surname from the word ferror that refers to ‘an iron worker’.
Derived from Olde French word fauche, this occupational surname means ‘ mower’ or ‘scythe’.
This Old French topographical surname is a derivative of classical Latin word ‘fons’ and means ‘well’ or ‘fountain’.
Originating from the French word foret, this surname means ‘forest’. It can be an occupational surname referring to ‘the keeper of the king’s forest.’
Derived from the French word Fort, this surname means ‘strong’ or ‘the dweller at the small fort’.
This topographic surname refers to someone who lived by an ash tree or lived by ash wood. It is a variant of Old French fresne.
Derived from the Old French word froisser, this surname means ‘to break’ or ‘shatter’.
Derived from the old French word gagnier, Ganeux means ‘to farm’ or ‘cultivate’. Renaud Gagneux was a notable French composer.
This word might refer to a servant or ‘boy’ in French.
Garnier is a modern version of the Old French words gerner or gernier. This occupational surname means ‘storehouse for corn’ or ‘keeper of granary’.
Gauthier means ‘an army ruler’. This surname is often given to lumbermen. Originating from the Old French gault and Gaelic gaut, that means “forest.” It contains Germanic elements wald which means “to govern,”.
Derived from a nickname given to a person who is light-hearted and joyful, Gay in Old French is gai which means ‘full of joy’.
Derived from the word gwen, Gouin means ‘light’ or ‘fair’. This surname originates from the Breton Celtic language in the pre-French or Gaelic conquest of Brittany.
Originating from the popular Norman name William, this surname means ‘protection’ or ‘strength’.
This surname is derived from the German personal name Hariwulf: Hari means ‘army’ and wulf means ‘wolf’.
Derived from a village in Haute-Loire, this surname comes from Auvergne that lies in South France. Derived from the French personal name Oudet, which comes from the Germanic name ode or aud which means ‘wealth’.
Janvier means ‘January’ and means a person who was born or baptized in January.
Joubert is formed by a combination of a tribe called Gaut and berth which means ‘bright’ or ‘famous’. A variant form of Jaubert, Joubert originates from the central west and centre south regions of France.
A variant of Jordan, this surname means ‘one who descends’. It is a personal name that is given to one who was baptized with the holy water from River Jordan.
Kaplan is derived from the Old Norman French word Caplain. It means ‘charity priest’ who was endowed to sing Mass daily on behalf of the souls of the dead.
This occupational surname refers to a torchbearer. La in French means ‘the’ and flamme means ‘fire’.
This occupational surname means ‘wool’ or ‘someone who does trading with wool’. The Gaelic Irish surnames, “O’Laighin’ took an Anglicized form to form the surname Lane.
Vi(g)ne means ‘vineyard’ in Old French and can refer to the topographical name for someone who lived near a vineyard.
50. Le Beau
Beau means ‘fair’ ‘handsome’ and ‘lovely’ in Old French. Anita Le Beau is a famous Canadian filmmaker.
This occupational surname means ‘craftsman’ or ‘ironsmith’ in Old French. It is a variant of Lefevre, Lefebure or Lefeuvre.
Roy means ‘king’ in Old French and is common in northern France.
Derived from Marchand, this occupational surname means ‘merchant’ or ‘someone who bought and sold goods’ in Old French.
Derived from Mars, the Roman God of War and fertility, Martin belonged to the name of the tribe of Mairtine. Its root Mar means ‘gleam’.
Originating from the Latin word Mattaeus, which in turn is derived from the Greek word Matthaios, Matthieu means ‘gift of the Lord’.
Monet is a variant of the name Simon and means ‘to be heard’.Monet is most common in the Rhône-Alpes region of the French Alps.
Originally a nickname for someone with a dark complexion More means ‘dark-skinned’ person.
Moulin is derived from the Latin word Molina. It is commonly refers to the occupational name for a miller or mill worker.
Originating from the female name Osanna, Ozanne means ‘save now’ or ‘save pray’.
Originating from the Greek word paidion, Page is an occupational surname for a ‘little boy’.
Derived from the Latin word Pascha, Pascal is a patronymic or a hereditary surname. It is a Hebrew name for ‘Passover’.
Originating from Picard of Northern France, this surname can be a habitual name for a person living in Picard.
Derived from the word plentive meaning ‘planter of wines’, this surname could also be a topographic name for ‘an area with plants’ or ‘shrubbery’.
Derived from Palourde, this surname means ‘a variety of shelfish’.
Derived from the German word Ragin or from the Old French “reine” this surname means ‘advice’ or ‘counsel’.
Derived from the old French word raison, this surname means ‘intellectual faculty’.
Remy is a medieval personal name that is represented by the Latin name Remihius meaning ‘rower’ or ‘oarsman’ and Remedius that means ‘cure’.
This classic name is derived from the word which means powerful and hard meaning ‘brave’ or ‘strong’.
In Old French, this surname means ‘river’ or ‘shore’. It is also a topographic name for someone who lived by the bank of the river.
This surname was first used in Auvergne, which is a place in ancient France.
In Old French Roche means ‘rocky outcrop’. This topographic surname refers to a person who resides near hills.
Derived from the Latin word sartor, Satre is a French occupational surname for someone who sews clothes or ‘tailor’.
Originating from the French word sauve, this surname means ‘safe’ and terre means land.
This occupational surname is derived from the Latin word secale which means ‘rye’ or ‘grower or seller of rye’.
Derived from the word serre, this surname means ‘ridge’ or ‘chain of hills’. It could also be a habitational name for places near southern and eastern France.
Derived from the historical origin, Simon may have been derived from the Hebrew shim’on and means ‘to listen’.
Originating from the old French word soule, Soulier means ‘platform’. This is also an occupational surname for a shoemaker.
Derived from the Old French word tasse that means ‘purse’ or ‘bag’, it could be an occupational name for ‘a maker of purses’.
Derived from the Old French name Theobald, Thibaut means ‘brave’ or ‘bold’.
This French surname of baptismal origin can be traced to the French term ‘toussaint’ or All Saints Day.
Derived from the French word traverser, Travers means ‘to cross’. It is also used for a person who lives near a bridge or a ford.
This plural form of tremble means ‘aspen’. It could be a topographic name for a person living near a group of Aspen trees.
Derived from the old French word trotter, Trottier is an occupational surname and means ‘walk fast’.
Derived from the Latin word vache, Vachon means ‘cow’. It can also be an occupational surname for a person who was a cowherd.
A variant of the word valencourt, this surname means a ‘low-lying farm’.
Derived from the Old French word vaillant, this surname means ‘brave’ or ‘sturdy’.
Originating from Occitan, a language in Southern France, Valade means ‘valley’.
Derived from the French word vanier, Vannier refers to someone who does winnowing.
Verne means ‘alder’ in French.
Derived from Old German name Waro which originates from Wara meaning ‘protection’.
Derived from Old French name Voltor, Vautour means ‘vulture’.
This habitational surname belongs to various places in northern France. Derived from Old French plural of val that means ‘valley’.
Derived from the Old French word viner, Vinet means ‘to make wine’.
This French surname means ‘face’. It may have been used as a nickname for someone with a beautiful or remarkable face.
Derived from the Old French word voler, Voland means ‘to fly’ or ‘agile’. It has an Americanized spelling of Norwegian Våland.
Derived from Old Flemish word wacque, Wack is a measure of weight. Its initial use was found in Silesia and can refer to an official responsible for weighing.
This occupational surname of Norman French origin refers to a person who weaves.
This medieval French name is a form of the name Violante which is a derivative of Latin viola or ‘violet’. It could possibly be of Germanic origin.
A variant of Ayotte, this surname means ‘small hedge’ or ‘small woody plot of land’ in Old French.
This surname is a variation of ‘beautiful’, as it has the French word ‘belle’ in it.
French last names are intriguing and stylish. Whether you’re an author looking to name a character in your novel, or just a regular person looking for a name for your alter-ego, this list would help in choosing the best surnames that would add a dash of a special suave and elegance to your personality.