France is one of the most culturally rich and diverse countries on the planet.
Nobody can blame you for wanting to know about this amazing place, whether it is the people, the landscape, or the culture. But where can you find books about France?
Well, luckily for you, there are plenty to choose from. Being a devoted Francophile myself, I have snooped and scoured through Amazon and various libraries to find the best books on France and here, for you, I have found some of the very best.
So what are the best books about France? Which ones are set in the past and which are set in the present? Can you find biographies set in France? What is the best France-based fiction?
Well, I have compiled a list of the best books about France that you can buy right now.
Best Books About France
I have tried to organize these books in terms of how riveting I found them, as well as covering a diverse range of genres including history, fiction, nonfiction, and autobiography. These are all books that will enrich your knowledge of France.
My Life In France
This first book has gathered rave reviews across the board and has even changed the way that a lot of Americans approach cooking.
This book is a new approach to French cuisine, written by Julia Child, who has presented the television show The French Chef.
This story starts with Julia landing in France just after the war in 1948, knowing almost nothing about the culture and unable to speak a single word of French.
We follow Julia as she begins her French adventure, taking a job in a kitchen and getting into the unique and often fraught world of French cooking.
However, this book does not only deal with cooking, but it also covers love and marriage, in a romance that drags Julia from one side of the globe to the other.
This is a great book about seeing France through the eyes of an American.
This book has sold well across America and is now one of the seminal cookbooks about French cuisine in the USA.
It has thousands of positive reviews on Amazon, with a lot of readers commenting on Julia’s humorous and wide-eyed perspective on France.
- An amazing book on French cuisine.
- Light and breezy, this book is incredibly easy to digest.
- This is an inspirational read.
- Will teach you a lot about France during the 50s and 60s.
- If you aren’t interested in cooking, this is not the book for you.
A Bite-Size History Of France
If you are interested in the history of some of the most famous French foods and wines, then this is the book for you.
Whether it is discovering why Bordeaux is so popular in other parts of the world or what the link is between French cheeses and monasteries, there’s plenty to find out about here.
This goes even deeper than just the origins of food, it demonstrates how the war impacted the food industry in France, along with how other innovations in technology resulted in some amazing and unforgettable dishes.
This book is a fascinating read and uncovers some of the myths about what France is probably the most famous for, its food.
This is written by an academic and a cheesemaker, so you can be sure that there is a lot of rigor put into the research of this book.
This covers most of the major cities in France, but it also goes underground to look at some of the lesser-known dishes.
If you want a book that you will not be able to put down, then you can’t go far wrong with this one.
- A hugely informative book.
- Learn everything that you need to know about French food.
- Discover French history through its food.
- Well-written and not too complicated.
- Some readers have said this book focuses more on history than cuisine.
A Woman Of No Importance
This next book is for people who want a tale that is factually accurate as well as thrilling.
This is about a spy from Baltimore called Virginia Hall who worked her way up through the Secret Service to become one of the world’s most notorious spies.
This is a rip-roaring tale of what happened in France during the war, with plenty of intrigue and death-defying acts.
This is an extremely well-researched novel that never gets boring, blending fact with the most exciting elements of narrative fiction.
The best way to learn about history is through something that excites you and this novel does that to a high caliber.
It comes with over 15,000 positive ratings on Amazon, with news outlets like The New York Times Book Review lauding it as amazing and dynamic.
If you want to know more about France during this turbulent time in its history, then this is a great novel for you to start with. It is a courageous story that you will return to again and again.
We would also recommend this for young female readers with an appetite for history.
- A great insight into a war-torn France.
- A female-led narrative.
- Great for readers young and old.
- Plenty of plaudits from critics and average readers.
- Might not be suitable for anyone who wants a more modern history of France.
Bringing Up Bebe
This next book is a wry look at French parenting techniques from the perspective of an American. This is great for young parents who might want to look at alternative methods of bringing up their children.
The author does not get too preachy with this, rather she keeps the tone light and informative, giving you a window into how they rear children on the continent.
This is also a great gift for anyone who you know is expecting to become a parent.
This novel took over 3 years to research, so you can be sure that there are no stones left unturned when it comes to breastfeeding, how to scold a child or other parenting do’s and don’ts.
This is another New York Times bestseller and comes with thousands of reviews on Amazon.
This is a distinctly modern take on France, which is great if you are looking for something to read about this country that is a little more up-to-date.
However, if you are not a parent or you have grown-up children, then you might find a lot to read about in this book.
- Covers a very niche topic of parenting in France.
- Painstakingly researched.
- Been described as a great parenting book for people.
- A great gift for newlyweds and young parents.
- Not that interesting for single people.
The Sweet Life In Paris
This is another book for the foodies, except this time it goes a little more in-depth, discussing the author’s experiences with French food and culture.
This is told from the experience of a man who threw all his belongings into 3 suitcases and traveled to Paris to become a pastry chef.
But this is the tale of a person trying to ingratiate themselves into France.
Whether it is learning the dress code or finding out how to order a coffee, he has to learn everything from the ground up. Luckily, he tells the story with much humor and descriptive skill.
This book is also a recipe book, covering everything from bacon and bleu cheesecake, pork loin cooked in brown sugar, marshmallows infused with chocolate and coconut, and madeleines glazed with lemon.
This combination of humor and mouth-watering recipes really makes for an utterly unique book.
This novel has received much praise from both broadsheets and readers.
This is great if you are looking for something to keep you entertained while also learning about French life and great French cuisine.
- A great introduction to some wonderful French dishes.
- A highly humorous novel.
- Autobiography mixed in with general experience in France.
- A great modern-day look at France.
- If you do not consider yourself much of a cook, the recipe section of this novel might not be of that much interest to you.
Wine And War
This is a novel about how France fought to maintain its most prized commodity, wine, from the Nazis.
This is the story of how winemakers protected their sacred crops from the Nazis and went to extreme measures to do so.
This is a great book on a hitherto-unknown part of French history.
You don’t really have to know much about wine to be involved in this novel.
This novel is a love letter to those people who went above and beyond the call of duty to protect the spirit of France from an oncoming invasion.
If you want some information on France as an icebreaker at a dinner party, then read this book.
The author has well-researched their subject and there is nothing left uncovered by the time you finish it.
This is also a great war tale that approaches an old subject matter from a new perspective.
This is an extremely popular book and has gained thousands of great reviews on Amazon. This would also make a fantastic gift for any wine enthusiast.
- One of the best books on the history of French wine.
- An intriguing tale that is a real page-turner.
- Great gift for a wine connoisseur.
- A unique history of France during WWII.
- If wine is not your thing, you might not find much to engage you here.
You Will Not Have My Hate
Next up, we have a novel that tells a very modern tragic story about a man who has lost his wife during a terrorist attack on the Bataclan theater in Paris.
This is based on a true story about a man who originally wrote a viral Facebook post that then became this book.
When he lost his wife, Antoine Leiris wrote a post declaring that he nor his 17-month-old son would be defeated by the terrorist by giving in to hate.
This is a very moving story that opens the wound that was caused in France after this terrible attack.
You can guarantee that this will rouse a few tears in you, as Antoine wrestles with the desire to continue on with his life after losing the person that he loves most in the world.
This novel is an international bestseller, which is a testament to the humanity in this story.
- A moving story set in modern France.
- Great for anyone who is going through grief.
- An internationally bestselling novel.
- Very well-written.
- Not very narrative-driven.
A Year In Provence
If you like fish-out-of-water stories, then this might be the one for you.
It tells the tale of Peter Mayle, who moves to the French region of Provence to restore and live in a 200-year-old farmhouse. This is a story that is told with great humor and brevity.
Peter navigates his way through the trials and tribulations of doing up this property with his wife and their dog and there are plenty of moments in this book that will have you smirking, chuckling, and certainly laughing out loud.
This covers everything from rural French life to some of the cuisine, so you’ll find that there is plenty to get your teeth into.
This is the first in a series of books on this French region, so if you like this witty dispatch from this beautiful part of France, then you can immediately order some of his other books.
- A highly entertaining look at French life.
- Great for older readers.
- Would make a great gift for anyone that is planning on visiting France.
- A niche geographical history of Provence.
- Might be too jaunty for some readers.
A Moveable Feast
This is a classic of literature written by one of the titans of the art form Earnest Hemingway.
This book was one of the first that he wrote but was only published after his death.
It is a dizzying tale of his life in Paris during the 1920s when it was free from the shackles of war.
This novel features plenty of eating, drinking, and enjoying jazz music. It also talks about how Hemingway moved to this part of the world with his young son and first wife.
This is another fish-out-of-water tale that shows France from the perspective of an American.
If you like the classic style of literature, then you will love this novel. It is written in a very easy-to-understand and pared-down style which is what characterizes most of Hemingway’s work.
This is a novel that you can read again and again and has rightfully gone down as a classic.
- Depicts France from the eyes of a classic novelist.
- Shows France after WWI.
- Well-written and full of joys and traumas.
- Great gift for any fans of high literature.
- Not for the casual reader.
Code Name Helene
This next book is for people who are fans of narrative fiction set during WWII.
This mixes biography with fiction and tells the story of a heroic woman in Nazi-occupied France who kills a Nazi soldier and goes on to become a celebrated war hero.
This is the story of Nancy Wake who comes to live in France after emigrating from Australia.
She then lands a role smuggling people and top secret documents over the French border, evading the Nazis to such an extent that the Gestapo brand her as ‘The White Mouse’.
There is plenty to enjoy in this novel and the author Ariel Lawhon really crafts a page-turning narrative and brings to life these historical figures.
This is great for anyone who has more than a passing interest in world history and especially World War II.
- A great story set in France during WWII.
- Strong female characters.
- Great for young readers who want to learn more about the war.
- Features romance, real events, and thriller elements.
- Some readers have described the dialogue as being too repetitive.
All The Light We Cannot See
This next novel is another one for those fans of high-brow literature, scooping a national book award and a Pulitzer prize.
This book is about a young girl in Nazi-occupied Paris whose father builds her a miniature city so she can negotiate the real thing.
This is a novelist who knows how to write, with a book that is packed with dense sentences which is just perfect for those literature fans.
This novel comes with vividly-rendered details about France during World War II and is generally considered one of the best novels written about this period.
We would certainly recommend this for anyone who likes to blend their fiction with their nonfiction.
The novel is as gripping as it is sad, a real tale of humanity. This would make the perfect stocking filler at Christmas or a fantastic birthday gift.
- An international bestseller.
- A great novel set in France.
- A thrilling, heart-wrenching tale of war.
- Great characters and pitch-perfect prose.
- Not for the casual reader.
The Book Of Lost Names
This next book is a true story that is set against the backdrop of the outbreak of World War II.
You can be sure that you will laugh and cry in equal measure with this novel. It is expertly written and will quickly grab you with its tale of joy and humanity.
This is a book about a retired librarian who stumbles across a book in Florida that she thought had been acquired by the Nazis.
This then flits back in time to 1942 in Paris when the Nazis first took control of the city. This is a captivating tale of France during the war.
This comes with over 20,000 fantastic ratings on Amazon, which is a testament to the skill with which this novel is written.
This is a great novel for anyone who enjoys true stories. You can also get this one as a gift for a history buff.
- A true story set in WWII.
- A premise that hooks you in immediately.
- A great gift for readers young and old.
- A snapshot of Paris during the Nazi occupation.
- Not for casual readers.
Paris: A Novel
This next book is great for anyone who is looking for something historical that does not involve WWII.
This novel spans generations and jumps backward and forward in time across a whopping 800 pages to tell the full story of the evolution of this landmark city.
This novel travels through the reigns of King Louis XV, two brothers who lived in the slums of Paris, and the age of Napoleon.
This is the perfect novel for anyone who really likes to get lost in a whole world.
You’ll really feel like you are walking through the streets of Paris at many different ages, that’s how well the prose is written.
There are thousands of readers and reviewers who have described this novel as being one of the most evocative that they’ve read.
This is a book that is spellbinding and very romantic, perfect for anyone who indulges in flights of fancy as well as grounding themselves in a real time and place.
- A historical novel that covers most periods in Paris.
- A great epic that you can get lost in.
- Great for older and younger readers with an interest in French history.
- An international bestseller.
- Too long for some casual readers.
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Now we have a novel that brings up right up to the present day, focusing on an Indian family that moves to find themselves as aliens in a foreign land.
This is another one that focuses on the food of France, using its rich tapestry to provide context and narrative drive to the novel.
The great thing about this novel is the merging of the two cultures. The main character Hassan Haji has gone from the rich spices of India to the small village of Lumiere in the French Alps.
This is a story of displacement and how food can heal the deepest of wounds.
This novel comes with thousands of great ratings, with readers praising the narrative as well as the three-dimensional characters.
This is a very charming novel and would make the perfect holiday read for anyone looking to transport themselves to sunnier climates on a rainy day.
- An uplifting novel.
- Tells the story of France through the lens of India.
- A New York Times Bestseller.
- Great for older readers.
- Some readers have said that this has a weak ending.
This novel comes with a very intriguing premise: Magdalena has the ability to see the futures, dreams, secret passions, and details about their personal life actually tattooed on their skin.
This is a novel that begins in Paris but then takes us around the globe, from post-Soviet Lithuania to the American South.
This is a great debut by the author Adelia Saunders, who takes us into a world and does not let us go until the last page.
This is a story about love against all the odds, set against the background of modern-day France and other countries.
This novel has gained many positive reviews, with lots of readers praising the main character Magdalena.
This is a great novel for young readers who might want something a little more challenging but with a magical-realist twist.
- This is a great premise well executed.
- Great for younger readers.
- A detailed rendering of modern Paris.
- A great holiday read.
- More fiction than fact, which might not appeal to history fans.
The Vine Witch
This next novel is for those who like books with a dash of magical realism and the supernatural.
This novel reimagines French vineyards as places that are managed by vine witches, who help their vineyards to grow with the aid of magic spells and hinder other vineyards with horrible curses.
This novel also pits the supernatural against the scientific, with the magnetic Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel preferring the scientific method of cultivating his wine grapes.
However, when the witch Elena returns from spending 7 years as a toad, she plans revenge on the person who cursed her in the first place.
This is a great novel that takes one of the standard tropes of France and spins it on its head.
This is great for younger readers who want to let their imagination wander but also want something that is grounded and real.
- A magical-realist novel set in rural France.
- A unique take on a classic French pastime.
- Well-written with solid characters.
- A gripping fantasy novel.
- Not for people who prefer more grounded novels.
When you are looking for novels about France, you aren’t really limited by genre or subject matter.
A book can simply be set in France or it can focus on a particular aspect of French culture such as the food or the wine.
Here are a few other tropes you need to watch out for:
This is usually about someone who has lived in France or is originally from France.
A popular type of biography is someone who has come to France from another country and is trying to fit in.
Food From France
The French are obviously famous for their food, so there is a lot to cover there.
You can get plenty of simple recipe books from France, stories that detail personal experiences of French food, or books that chart the general history of French cuisine.
Hopefully, some of the books that I’ve listed have given you a broad flavor of some of the books that you can get about France.
However, these are just the best books about France, but there are plenty of other subjects and histories of France you can explore.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Types Of Books Are There On France?
There are plenty of different genres that cover France as a country, these include: biography, autobiography, history, travel, fiction, magical realism… the list goes on and on.
Who Are Popular French Authors?
Some of the most famous French authors include: Marcel Proust, Victor Hugo, Honoré De Balzac, Voltaire, Gustave Flaubert, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus.
What Are The Most Famous French Novels?
Some of the most famous and popular French novels include:
– Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
– La Cousin Bette by Honoré De Balzac
– Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec
– The Stranger by Alert Camus
– Candide by Voltaire
– The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
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