12 Stunning European Place Names Worth Visiting
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Ever since the time that William and Fanny Nightingale decided to name their baby daughter Florence after the city of her birth, parents have warmed to the idea of choosing pretty names of pretty places, particularly if they have some particular significance for them. In the recent past we’ve seen the popularity of Paris and London, Brooklyn and Trenton, Boston, Austin and Aspen, Savannah and Siena/Sienna. But here are 12 lovely choices from the continent of Europe that you probably have not considered.
Annecy is a breathtakingly beautiful town (and lake) in northeastern France, with winding cobbled streets and canals and a medieval chateau, Now the home of the International Animated Film Festival, it’s a special place for me because it’s where I spent my honeymoon. And who couldn’t use another Ann name, especially one this delicate and lacy?
- France, with winding cobbled streets and canals and a medieval chateau, Now the home of the International Animated Film Festival, it’s a special place for me because it’s where I spent my honeymoon. And who couldn’t use another Ann name, especially one this delicate and lacy?" >
- Manuel de Falla and, surprisingly, American Civil War Union General George Meade. It would make an unusual, and memorable, name for a boy, with its z-ending sizzle." >
- Cora, Coralie, Cordelia, Cornelia, Cormac and—another place name—Corsica. Corinth is the capital of Corinthia—yet another possibility." >
- Lily family. The northern French city, birthplace of Charles de Gaulle and Louis Pasteur, boasts a picturesque 17th century brick Old Town." >
- Saint-Malo is a port city in Brittany featuring a Gothic cathedral and a granite-walled old town, and is noted for a privateering/pirate past. The Breton saint name Malo –heard in the Legend of Zelda video games--has taken off in France, where it’s currently #64. Another name possibility is the Swedish city Malmö." >
- Otto and Orlando, this name of the capital of Norway has the appealing bookending letter o’s. It also forms a path to cute-cool nickname Ossie/Ozzie." >
- Ravenna has been celebrated in poetry as part of its rich artistic, historic and literary heritage. Despite being associated with the evil queen in Snow White and the Huntsman, we think it would make a lovely choice." >
- Sara Gilbert and Linda Perry for their son Rhodes Emilio. Another plus: the connection to the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships." >
- Verona is most famous for its Shakespearean associations as the setting of three of his plays, including Romeo and Juliet. Would make an interesting choice if you’re looking for a V name more distinctive than Vera." >
- Austria brings to mind the music of Mozart and Beethoven, castles and cafes. Vienna cracked the US popularity list in 2015, is 531 on Nameberry, and is a Top 300 name in the Netherlands." >
- Xanthe, but the similarly pronounced Xanthi—a city in northern Greece—would give it a unique place-name spin." >
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on August 17th, 2017 at 10:56 pm
Ravenna is one of my long-term loves! It’s distinctive without being weird or too ‘try-hard.’
on August 17th, 2017 at 11:30 pm
I like several of these. Ravenna is already on my list. (Did not know it was a place name—thanks for the info!) Verona, Geneva, Oslo and Lille are quite nice too. Lille is surprisingly appealing — I like it better the more I say it.
on August 18th, 2017 at 7:35 am
Annecy and Xanthi😍😍😍
on August 18th, 2017 at 7:40 am
Another French place name that I love (also for lovers of New Orleans): Marigny
It’s pronounced Mare-ih-nee and I think it’s very wearable for a baby girl. I grew up with a Marigny and have only ever known the one.
on August 18th, 2017 at 8:42 am
What a well-made list! I love that these are genuinely fresh choices (LOVE Annecy) and include suggestions for both boys and girls.
on August 18th, 2017 at 8:49 am
You know, sometimes I hate it when my favorites show up in these lists. (Eye roll at myself.) I’m not sure we’ll ever use Ravenna but I really like it! It’s also a neighborhood in Seattle, which makes me like it more but also makes it difficult to use if we plan to move back there. @jpruitt76 Marigny is fabulous! That’s totally new for me and it’s beautiful!
on August 18th, 2017 at 9:06 am
Some of these are quite lovely! As a child, I loved the “Ginny and Geneva” books, so I have a warm feeling towards the name Geneva.
Ravenna is also a small town in Ohio, off I-76, en route to Akron. It’s a nice enough little town, with a prestigious medical school just down the road from it in a town called Rootstown. However, this area is close enough that any child named “Ravenna” would automatically be asked if she was named for the Ohio town.
There is also an Ohio town called Cadiz, but it’s pronounced “Kah-dizz”, not “Kah-dees” as would be the proper Spanish pronunciation. I don’t find that one particularly wearable.
on August 18th, 2017 at 10:41 am
In Spain the “Z” is pronounced as “th,” so Cadiz is CA-deeth actually
on August 18th, 2017 at 2:49 pm
Avila (pronounced AV-i-la) is a medieval city in Spain, with a sound that fits in nicely with Ava, Evelyn etc. I believe it’s also a beach in California.
on August 18th, 2017 at 3:27 pm
My favorite European place-names are Istria, Dacia, Vienna, Iona, and Aston. A lot of these I’d never considered!! Great list of names (and places to visit!)
on August 18th, 2017 at 4:54 pm
Annecy is lovely.
But in any place with a high Hispanic population, you cannot name your kid Malo. It means bad, evil, wicked.
on August 19th, 2017 at 1:29 am
I love Malo because it has a cool sound and has that trendy -o ending, but I don’t know know if the association with “mal”, meaning wicked and evil in many languages,, makes it less wearable.
on August 19th, 2017 at 7:19 am
My favourite European place name by far is Altea (al-TEY- a) for a girl, a small coastal village in the east of spain. It fits in super well with names like Athena or Alice but with a much more flowy sound and hippy, vibrant connotations.
on August 19th, 2017 at 9:26 pm
Just had a baby Rhodes this month! Timely article. In our case it was a family name
on August 20th, 2017 at 9:29 pm
Ever since I was about 12 years old I fancied Corinth as a baby name. I prefer the more obscure, rarely-if-ever used biblical names / place names.
on August 21st, 2017 at 8:31 am
Knew a girl in college named Lisbon and love the name Geneva!
on August 22nd, 2017 at 7:00 am
Annecy is lovely, but without the right pronunciation it becomes Ana-see, like Anniston instead of Anee-cee.
I like Ravenna.
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