Monday, 30 December 2013

Parisian Names



For centuries, Paris has been a source of inspiration for many writers, artists, fashionistas and all kinds of artistic peoples.  It is no wonder that Paris was a great source of name inspiration for me. A quick break to the City of Light was enough to pull me back to Names Yesteryear, which has been dormant (but certainly not forgotten!) for more than a year. Life and my career have gotten in the way of blogging, but I'm inspired, refreshed and ready to start writing again. Let's see where it goes, and if I can get back in the swing of things. So let's get back to the very important matter of names!

It's difficult to know where to start with names linked to Paris - there are so many. Below are just a few that are a little bit off the beaten track, not your typical Francis, Louis or Marie.

Lutèce- Forget obvious Paris and step back into pre-Roman times. Lutèce was one of Paris' original names. Her roots are undetermined and her meanings equally so. There's a possibility of 'mice' or 'marsh', neither particular alluring. But with Lutèce it's not about meaning but more about the connection to such an iconic city. She is the French form of Latin Lutetia, which gives us another intriguing option. Even if neither of these names work, there's always the more familiar Letitia - it's a long shot but in a roundabout way it could honour Paris' early history.

Piera- For all of the Mona Lisa's fame you'd expect the painting to be large, to dominate a room in the Louvre with its sheer size. It's actually rather small and unassuming. You'd miss it if not for the hordes of tourists squeezing in around it to get a glimpse. Both Mona and Lisa would be too obvious of names to feature, so a little digging reveals Piera, the name of one of Mona Lisa's daughters. Her name is the Italian form of Peter, and a little less known than strong Petra. She is Mediterranean and interesting but quite earthy and usable. For an even more Italian choice, there is Marietta, the name of another of Lisa's daughters. It's an Italian diminutive of staple Maria.

Elysian - The view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe looking down on the Champs-Élysées is in my opinion one of Paris' most beautiful views. The world famous street is named after the Elysian Fields, a place where humans related to Greek Gods, or those who did heroic deeds, went for their afterlife. It's a sort of eternal paradise, also known as Elysium. There is no doubt that Elysium will now be connected to the recent Matt Damon film, but this doesn't mean that it diminishes Elysian's appeal. Additionally, I think it could work for either gender - a cool, different and subtle choice if you want to hint at a Paris connection.

Zéphyrine - By the end of our stay in Paris we were really done with all the church seeing, and we therefore chose to skip the Basilica of St Denis. It's was a shame, because it has such an interesting history, not to mention that it is the resting place of many French kings and their kin. Princess Marie Zéphyrine is such a privileged relation. She was the eldest daughter of Louis, Dauphin of France, by his second wife Maria Josepha of Saxony. One of her brothers was Louis VXI, famously married to Marie Antoinette and beheaded during the French Revolution. Little Marie Zéphyrine was named after St Zephyrinus, an early Roman Catholic pope. Her name comes from the Greek Zephyros meaning 'west wind'. She is close in style to elegant Josephine but hasn't had the same exposure. Definitely off the beaten track, Zéphyrine is not for everyone, but she is an intriguing and very French choice for the more adventurous.

Mirabeau - If you ever decide to study the French Revolution, you will no doubt come across the name Mirabeau quite often. I only really started to think about how wearable a name it is when I visited the Panthéon. Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau was the first person to be buried in the Panthéon, in 1791, a few years after the Storming of the Bastille kicked off the French Revolution in 1789. The Revolution brought many extremists to the forefront of French politics: those who wanted the monarchy's power to remain absolute and leave the people with no say; and those who wanted the monarchy completely eradicated and to allow the 'people' to hold the country's reins. Mirabeau did not fall into either category - he was a moderate at a time when being a moderate was very difficult indeed. His name is pretty but handsome, which means it is rather versatile when it comes to gender. Let's think Isabeau and Beaumont, strong with a touch femininity.

Image: Photo by Me :)