Ah, Paris! 7 Great Books Set in France

f_05_1If you’re dreaming of visiting Paris, or just dreaming, here’s a list of books set in the City of Light, as well as other parts of France.  From new to classic, fiction to nonfiction, these books are sure to spark your interest in one of the world’s most fascinating cities.

What do you read when you want to get away? We all have favorite destinations, and one of my favorites is France. A glass of wine, a decadent delight (preferably dark chocolate), a crackling fire, a favorite perfume, something in silk…and a book that whisks me away to the romance of France.

Part of my novel, SCENT OF TRIUMPH, is set in Paris and Grasse, and on recent visits, I soaked up as much as I could in terms of history, food, culture, fashion, perfumery, art, and so much more.

Don’t see one on the list? Share your favorites in the comments below so others can share your joy, too! If you enjoy historical reads, check out my list of historical fiction set in France.

Here are a few of my favorite books set in France.  What would you add to the list?

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene

A Night at the Majestic by Richard Davenport-Hines

The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City by David Lebovitz

Notre Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) by Victor Hugo

Still want more?  If you like to read period pieces, check out my expanded book list of historical fiction set in France.



57 thoughts on “Ah, Paris! 7 Great Books Set in France

  1. Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast is set in Paris and details his years as a struggling writer on the Left Bank. It really is a fabulous read.

  2. What a great list! We have particularly liked these Paris set novels:
    April in Paris by Michael Wallner
    Claude and Camille – by Stephanie Cowell
    Foreign Tongue by Vanina Marsot
    Hidden in Paris by Corine Gantz
    ….so many titles to choose from! Your books is a welcome addition to our database!

  3. Hello Jan! There’s a new book, a novel titled French Bleu, to check out. It’s very good, a compelling read, but then I’m partial as I’m the author, Caroline Clemens.

  4. Hi Jan! One of my favourite books about Paris is ‘Almost French’. It’s an Australian woman’s story about marrying a french man and living in Paris. It’s really very amusing.

    • Great addition! Hey everyone, keep the France-related book recommendations coming! This has been so popular that I’m planning a follow-up post about Reader Favorites set in France!

  5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins has a great Parisian feel to it. It’s modern YA, so a little different genre than the rest of your list… but you can see Paris on every page.

  6. May I suggest Murder in the Marais, my first Aimee Leduc investigation in the series? It’s on your Goodreads list, too. My stories take place all in the different arrondissements of Paris – a trip to Paris w/o airfare cheers Cara
    Ps Love Almost French by Sarah Turnbull

  7. If you’re interested in historical novels, I’d recommend “Escape from Paris” by Carolyn Hart. This novel shows a COMPLETELY different side of Paris, one I had never really been pulled into by a book. The novel is set in Paris in 1940 when the city was occupied by Nazis. In contrast to the romantic City of Lights, Paris was horrifying at that time. Really an eye-opener!

  8. My sister keeps trying to get me to read Perfume: Story of a Murderer, set in France. I haven’t yet, but she persists. 😉

    Some books set in France, rather than Paris herself, that I’ve enjoyed are:
    Bruno, Chief of Police
    From Here You Can’t See Paris

    • Perfume is a great book, but funny enough, I resisted, too, at first. The initial descriptions of putrid smells were so real to me that I had to put the book down–it was sickening.

  9. Alan would add “The Moon and Sixpence” by W. Somerset Maugham. Alan started reading it in London where the book begins, and finished it while sitting in the cafes of the Paris districts where the story largely takes place. The magic of the novel and reminders of sailing in the South Pacific made for a great experience!

  10. As someone already added ‘The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry’, by Kathleen Flinn, I’d add ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, by Dickens and, of course, Hugo’s ‘Les Misérables’.

  11. Jan, I’m very late to this party! Just saw your tweet. May I add my most recent novel, The Promise of Provence – parts of set in the Luberon, Paris and Antibes. I’ll be happy to send you a copy!

    • Hi Patricia, your books sounds fascinating. I love to write about France and frankly, anyplace I’ve explored. You can always reach me through the Contact section here on the site. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  12. How about Guy Endore’s “The Werewolf of Paris” then? Even leaving aside the horror theme, it’s the best fictional account of the Commune, bar none!

  13. Found you via @FigTreeBks on Twitter. I’m the new Media Editor there; I’m also a Francophile and happy to see this list! I’d add one new book that’s partially set in Paris: Anthony Doerr’s ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. But one of my all-time favorite reads is LA VIE DEVANT SOI (translated as “Momo” or “Madame Rosa”), by Romain Gary/Emile Ajar.

  14. It’s my dream to go to Paris someday! ‘Til then, I’ll have to settle for great literature. I’d add “The Phantom of the Opera” to the list 🙂

    • Hi BB! Here’s another one for you…I just started Kristin Hannah’s Nightingale, which I’m just loving! We share a publisher, St. Martin’s Press, so they sent an advance copy to me. It takes place in France during WWII, so you might want to check it out, too 🙂

  15. My wife’s books should be here. “French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley” and “French Illusions: From Tours to Paris” are from her diaries of her time in France in 1979 and 1980.

Hello there! Why not leave a comment? Thanks!