Springtime in Paris: A New Generation of French Names

Springtime in Paris: A New Generation of French Names

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.

JulesOne 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.

About the Author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry and Baby Name DNA. The coauthor of ten groundbreaking books on names, Redmond is an internationally-recognized baby name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, CNN, and the BBC. She has written about baby names for The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and People.

Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its sequel, Older. She has three new books in the works.