French Name for Grandfather

Terms Range From Formal to Fun

French grandfather spends time with granddaughter
A short work week makes it possible for most French families to have quality time together. Photo © Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy / Getty Images

Grand-père is the formal French term for grandfather. Grand-papa is slightly less formal, and there are several other informal terms, including pépère and papy or papi.

Arrière-grand-père is the French term for great-grandfather.

Grand-père par alliance or étape-grand-père are the French terms for step-grandfather.

Grand-père adoptif is the French term for adoptive grandfather.

Learn how to pronounce French family names, or see the French terms for grandmother.

See also a comprehensive list of grandfather names.

Pépère

While most people would refer to their grandfather as Grand-père when speaking to others, they would probably use a pet name when speaking to their actual grandfather. These names are usually chosen by the grandfather or grandchildren. The common nickname for grandfather in France and other French-speaking regions is pépère. While English has many nicknames for grandfathers, French does not. English has so many nicknames because many are based on the language of the family's ancestors. As practice, try listening for affectionate pet names when you watch TV shows or movies in French.

Importance of Family

Traditionally, the extended family is very important in France. Rural families tend to live close to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Those who have moved to the cities, however, may have left their extended families behind.

In France, the work week is 35 hours, so there is time for family bonding. The policies around parental leave are generous, and most mothers are able to be with their newborn babies for months if not years. France has state-run day care centers and preschool programs, so grandparents aren't needed for childcare as much as they are in some countries.

But, that doesn't mean grandparents don't find ample reasons to visit.

As life expectancy and general health has risen in France, many grandfathers find they have more time and energy to spend with grandchildren. The French government encouraged the elderly to spend time playing with their grandchildren as a form of exercise and bonding.