It's amazing what happens when you figure out your search terms in French. (in other words, why didn't I think of that first? *facepalm*)
I think some of this will be useful even if you don't have much or any French language background.Les Noms de Famille Méridionaux
- alphabetical listing of surnames, with meanings and regions of prevalence, collected by Frédéric Mistral over a 20 year period. It tells me that Victor Hugo can't spell - there is an actually surname of Combefère, derived from the Occitan "coumbo-fèro" meaning something like "wild gorge". Yes, those are O s on the end, but in pronunciation they get completely swallowed.
Found it through the awesome people at Lexilogos, who have a whole page of this stuff: Noms de famille
. In addition to the South of France (Midi, therefore méridional), there's Breton, Basque, Flemish, and a slew of foreign: English, German, Celtic, Czech, Italian, Spanish. The links on there are just amazing.
The awesome Lexilogos people also have Prénoms
! Occitan, Provençal, Gascon (all of which are regions within the langue d'oc with mutually intelligible dialects of what is today called Occitan - Gascon gets you much closer to Catalan, though). Normandy, Corsica, Jersey, Brittany, French-speaking Belgium (Wallonia), Basque region, Alsace, not to mention the other languages and regions.
If you want to be very specific in naming your characters, this is the mother load.
There's an Argot
section, which doesn't seem to have any dictionaries going far enough back, unfortunately, that are Paris-focused, but they've got a link to a "Dictionnaire de mauvaise langue" which is focused on Lyon and is from 1805. Actually, it might be helpful, I'm not going any further with it at this time of night.
Basically, if you have any grasp of French at all, Lexilogos
is amazing and worth spending a lot of time clicking around on. They have some internal pages but predominantly link to external sites, including books in full text on Google Books and on the BNF site. I've already found what are likely to be the exact editions from which Courfeyrac learned poetry of the troubadours.
Even if you have almost no grasp of French, you can access all the name stuff easily - regions are perfectly straightfoward and as long as you know that "prénom" is "first name" and "nom" or "nom de famille" is "Last name", you're all set.
What kind of literature and what kind of life is the same question. - Tom Stoppard