By Pamela Redmond Satran
There’s a new generation of names popular in Paris, all fresh and chic-sounding beyond the French borders. Will they translate to the English-speaking world? The Francophiles among us might like to try.
These names are widely used in contemporary France and might make exotic choices for a baby in Los Angeles or London.
Amandine – The French Amanda, John Malkovich introduced this lovely name to the wider world when he used this for his now-grown daughter.
Apolline – The Apollo relative was used by J.K. Rowling for a Frenchified character.
Capucine – Once associated with a hypersexy French actress, this ancient name is newly chic.
Clemence – Actress Clemence Poesy has popularized this French version of our Clementine, pronounced clay-mahns.
Faustine – Most English-speakers would pronounce the first syllable with an “ow” sound, as in house, but in France they pronounce it to rhyme with frost or cost: much prettier.
Lilou – This pet form of the Lilian family of names stems from Occitan, a language spoken in Provence, and is pronounce lee-loo.
Maelys – The feminine form of the Breton saint’s name Mael, Maelys usually takes a dipthong over the e – which can be challenging to enforce. The first syllable may be pronounced like mail or can be forced into two syllables – mah-el – and the dominant second syllable may end with either an s or a z sound: mayl-EESE, mah-el-EEZ, or something in between.
Manon – A diminutive of Marie, Manon can be a fresh way to honor Grandma Mary. Homeland actor Damian Lewis has a daughter named Manon.
Romane – Part of the Roman family, pronunciation is row-men, with equal emphasis on each syllable.
Solene – This relative of Solange is pronounced so-LEHN.
Victoire – Another name used in Harry Potter, this French twist freshens up Victoria – though the veek-twahr pronunciation may be challenging.
Baptiste – Stylish in Paris though may feel a bit old-school religious for many outside of France.
Bastien – Sebastian has been in the Top 100 in the U.S. for over a decade, but Bastien both simplifies it and makes it newer.
Corentin – Corentin is an ancient saint’s name very popular in France but virtually unknown beyond. Pronunciation is cor-en-TAN.
Jules – One of the simplest of the fashionable French names, Jules might be a newer way to say Julian.
Marius – Marius is one of those names that feels familiar and exotic at the same time. Much chicer than Italian cousin Mario.
Mathis — Very popular in France and pronounced mah-TEES like the painter, this name may update or honor Matthew.
Maxime and Maxence – Looking for a fresh route to Max? Consider one of these French long forms.
Thibault – Cool but pronunciation challenged: It’s tee-bo.