/ / 22 Best Books Set In France You Have To Read Now

22 Best Books Set In France You Have To Read Now

Want to add some books on France to your reading list? This post will give you all the best books set in France you’ll enjoy reading!

France has captured the hearts and minds of people from all over the world. Its attractions, monuments, people, cities, towns, history, and culture have caught the fancy of artists, musicians, painters, and filmmakers alike.

In the same way, many authors have been inspired to write multiple books about France on various topics.

Books Set in France

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And if you’re a Francophile like me with a deep-rooted love for everything French from French poems, puns, to French songs, you’ll also enjoy reading these 22 best books set in France to help you virtually take a tour of one of the most popular destinations in the world.

If you live in France or have visited it in the past, this list will help you reminisce and rediscover parts of France that you might know have known existed.

They span different eras, different localities, and different genres, so find a nice, cozy spot and start your literary journey.

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Best Books Set in France

Books about France

The 22 literary works listed below are some of the best books and novels about France.

The list consists of a mix of fiction and non-fiction in different genres like light reads, romance, self-discovery, historical, memoirs, and, ofcourse you’ll also find some classics and fine French novels!

1. The Nightingale: A Novel By Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale is a gripping tale of two sisters, each on their journey but working towards the same goal of survival and freedom. A historical story, this book talks about love, courage, resilience, and war in the backdrop of World War II.

Set in a quiet village in France, the protagonist, Vianne Mauriac has to take care of herself and her daughter after her husband has left to fight for the Western Front, and her home is requisitioned when the Germans invade France.

On the other hand, is Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, a teenager who recently got betrayed in love and has now joined the Resistance to save the lives of others.

How will each of the sisters handle their situation? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

2. Paris is always a good idea by Jenn McKinlay

Paris is always a good idea is a delightful, witty, and charming book on self-discovery that will have you rooting for the protagonist, Chelsea Martin, on her journey to finding happiness, love, and most importantly, herself.

The book is a cute summer read about 30-year-old Chelsea, an independent and successful fundraiser, who gets a wake-up call that makes her reminisce about her 22-year-old self and the gap year she used to travel through Europe.

The novel is set in France, Italy, and Ireland because she wants to reconnect with 1 man from each place, who had stolen her heart, to see if they can help her discover her lost self.

Throw in a competitive colleague who she dislikes, and you have a roller coaster of a journey through Europe.

3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

The original Notre-Dame de Paris, written by Victor Hugo in French, and translated into English by Walter Cobb, is centered around the Notre-Dame cathedral.

The title’s English version, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, refers to the cathedral’s bell ringer, Quasimodo.

One of the 19th-century gothic books about French history, this book was written to bring to notice the value and current state of the Gothic architecture of the city.

Agreed, it may seem like a hard read at the beginning, but when you go through all the character introductions at the beginning, you’ll realize how good of a storyteller Victor Hugo is in piecing everything together!

4. Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

One of the best novels about France, Dangerous Liaisons, is an epistolary (in the form of letters) novel written in four short volumes and published in the 18th century.

This book, too, was originally written in French and titled Les Liaisons dangereuses and then translated to English.

It is considered a controversial and scandalous piece of French literature and was supposedly loosely based on French nobility having immoral traits and explores the themes of power, seduction, influence, money, and corruption.

The story is based on two aristocrats and the depths they go to, to play games and seduce with manipulation and vengeance always on their minds.

Suffice to say, this novel does not end on a happy note. You can read the French version from here!

5. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A historical, classic novel that is considered a great work of literature, A Tale of Two Cities is set in Paris and London, with the story exploring the intertwined relationship between Lucie and her father, Doctor Manette.

Set during the French Revolution, the book speaks of Lucie, who believes that her father is dead, making her an orphan, only to find out that he was imprisoned in the Bastille for 18 years, which has impacted him psychologically.

It is then followed by her devotion to bring him back to a lucid state. Does she succeed with her plan? Read it here to find out!

6. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

A Year in Provence is an easy, fun read about Peter Mayle and his wife packing their bags, moving to France to occupy the 200-year-old farmhouse that they recently bought, and beginning their new Provençal life.

He recounts his 1st year of rural life in the South of France, chronicled month-wise, sharing his views on the new language, mastering it, passion for French cuisine, encounters with his neighbors, and other cultural quirks.

This book is a humorous daily recollection of the pleasures and challenges they faced and you’ll enjoy following along their journey.

7. The Queen of Paris: A Novel of Coco Chanel by Pamela Binnings Ewen

The Queen of Paris explores the different shades of legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel. This fictitious novel highlights her public persona, private life, and subsequent double life.

Coco Chanel is known for her stimulating perfume, Chanel No. 5 and now, its very existence and future of her brand is under threat when her Jewish business partner escapes to the USA with the perfume formula.

With Coco being wary of his intentions, she must find a way to seize ownership and gain back her legacy. It is a must-read that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

8. All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel set in Paris and Saint-Malo during the peak of WWII.

The story revolves around a blind girl from Paris, Marie-Laure, and an orphan from a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig.

Marie-Laure and her master locksmith father flee their city with a treasure when the Nazis occupy France and hide with Marie-Laure’s great uncle in Saint-Malo.

Werner, on the other hand, grows up with his sister. A smart boy, he becomes an expert at making and fixing instruments related to radio technology. The story follows their intertwined destinies that you’ll enjoy reading about!

9. The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

Hope McKenna-Smith, the protagonist of The Sweetness of Forgetting, has everything going against her.

Her mother lost the battle with cancer, leaving her to take care of her grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s.

She recently became a divorcee when her husband left her for a younger woman, and her teenage daughter blames her for it.

Her bank account is a joke, and while she has inherited the family bakery, she might lose that too if she doesn’t find an investor soon.

A moving story about mystery, secrets, courage, and hope, this book will leave you emotional with the drama and captivate you, at the same time, with the twists.

10. Paris: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd, Jean Gilpin

One of the best books about France history, Paris: The Novel, recounts the historical periods of Paris from 1261 to 1968.

This well-chronicled novel moves between centuries, narrating tales about love, war, secrets, tragedy all while capturing the City of Light in its entirety.

The characters’ multigenerational lives are explored too. Their relatives, antecedents, and descendants’ stories through the times are beautifully narrated.

An amazing amount of thorough research would have probably been done by Edward Rutherford to be able to weave this engaging novel.

11. Paris in Bloom by Georgianna Lane

Paris in Bloom shows you a side of Paris that you didn’t know existed – a City of Flowers.

From floral boutiques and flower markets to flowers blossoming in spring to trees blooming in gardens, this book on Paris will take you on a floral tour of the city with gorgeous photos and iconic architecture.

It is a sensory bouquet packaged neatly and, in a charming way, that will remind you of your best memories in Paris.

It is the kind of book that will be a breath of fresh spring air in the middle or at the end of a tiring day.

12. Paris: Portrait of a City by Jean Claude Gautrand

Paris: Portrait of a City is a book on Parisian history narrated through photographs of monuments, people, places and everyday life ranging from the past to the present. If Paris had a family album, this would be it!

It is a 600-page book consisting of more than 500 photographs, but none will disappoint.

Every Parisian street has a story to tell, every corner has a tale to recount, every building has history, and all of this is beautifully captured by various talented French photographers in this book!

13. Versailles: A Private Invitation by Guillaume Picon, Francis Hammond

Imagine seeing the unfiltered, unprohibited version of the Palace of Versailles through your own eyes.

Versailles: A Private Invitation is a monograph by Guillaume with photography by Francis, which gives you exactly that — an unfiltered invite into Château de Versailles!

Beautiful and exclusive photographs trace the château’s history and offer unprecedented access into its public and private sections.

The book also gives you insights into the design that inspired Versailles, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, located in Maincy, southeast of Paris.

To read the French version, you can grab a copy of Vaux-le-Vicomte from here.

14. Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley

This fictitious and wonderfully imaginative story of Perestroika in Paris is not only heartwarming but, is also thought-provoking.

The protagonist is a free-spirited, curious, and brave filly named Perestroika, who has run away from her racetrack to Paris.

There, she meets and befriends a German shorthaired pointer, Frida, who helps her survive. They have two ducks, an opinionated raven, and a rat keeping them company.

She eventually finds a friend in a young orphaned boy named Etienne and his 97-year-old great-grandmother. The book takes you through their lives, hopes, dreams, and fears funnily and charmingly.

15. The Paris Library: A Novel by Janet Skeslien Charles

The Paris Library is another historical novel set during WWII when the Nazis invaded Paris but with a difference. The book is based on a true story of how the heroic librarians saved the library.

The story follows Odile, a librarian at the American Library in Paris, and how her job and beloved library are at stake. She fights them in an unusual way, a way she knows best — with books! I’ll let you uncover how that part of the story unfolds.

Fast forward to 4 decades later, her adventurous teenage neighbor, Lily, tries to befriend her, and they realize that they have more commonality than meets the eye.

16. My Place at the Table by Alexander Lobrano

Alexander Lobrano is an American food writer who was so smitten by Paris as a teenager that he moved there and made it his home.

His other love, the love for food, paved the way for his restaurant critic job at one of the largest newspapers in France.

This Paris memoir, My Place at the Table, recounts his journey spanning 30 years from when he first moved to Paris to his recent encounters.

From taking his first interview without knowing a word of the French language to mastering it and eventually becoming an influential food critic, Alec has come a long way.

17. The Rival Queens: Catherine de Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that ignited a Kingdom by Nancy Goldstone

The Rival Queens is a true story of the mother-daughter queen duo of Catherine de’ Medici and Marguerite de Valois.

Their dissimilar personalities and opposing views make them each other’s adversaries with neither backing down nor giving in.

One of the books on France set during the Renaissance era, it follows these two remarkable women, their lives, relationships, and decisions, and how they all shaped the century.

It is a thrilling novel with love, betrayal, court politics, ambition, and espionage all sprinkled in.

18.  The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal and Trial by Combat by Eric Jager

The Last Duel, as the name suggests, narrates the story of the last official judicial duel or trial by combat to decide between guilt and innocence fought in France in 1386.

The duel in question is between Norman knight Jean de Carrouges and squire Jacques Le Gris.

In this thrilling historical book, the former accused the latter of raping his wife and went to King Charles VI to appeal a decision already handed by the Count. The duel was decided to be the decision-maker.

19. Lost in Paris by Elizabeth Thompson

3 women, 3 generations, and 1 secret are what Lost in Paris is all about. It is not a French book, but a major part of the story has the City of Lights at its focal point.

A story of inheritance and estranged mother-daughter ties that turn into a reunion to discover the matriarch’s secret life in Paris.

It is a heartwarming tale about family, secrets, love, intrigue, and heartbreak that takes you through two timelines – modern-day Paris and Paris of the 1920s.

20. The Little Vineyard in Provence by Ruth Kelly

A fun summer read, The Little Vineyard in Provence is a book that you would not want to put down.

At its heart, the book has Ava, whose unsatisfactory job and on-the-run husband have her lamenting her life.

Adding to her woes is the huge debt left behind by her spouse and a daughter she has to take care of on her own.

But things take a pleasant turn when she is informed that her grandfather has passed away, leaving her the childhood vineyard that she adored.

21. Hidden in Paris by Corine Gantz

A story that unfolds in Annie’s beautiful home, Hidden in Paris, has Annie dealing with and eventually helping her troubled tenants navigate their lives, leading her on a path of self-discovery.

She is a socially awkward woman, who had to resort to renting part of her home to save it, now becomes friends with the same women, who she has nothing in common with.

22. The Seine: The River that made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

The Seine is not only a river that flows through Paris, it has also been the subject of many creative and artistic works.

In this travelogue and historical memoir, Elaine, who is smitten by the popular and 2nd longest river of France, writes a love letter to it.

She is an amazing storyteller who has been a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, weaves stories of characters whose lives are intertwined with La Seine.

She follows the river from its source to the estuary where its waters meet the sea and everything in-between.

Final Thoughts on the Best Books Set in France

I hope you liked these books set in France that spoke about its history, culture, cuisine, and people.

So which book(s) did you enjoy the most? And which one(s) has made it to your favorites list? Do let me know if you think I missed out on any other great books on France and I’ll add them to my list.


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You might think that it’s expensive, but when you think of how much it will save you when you lose your valuables or even get sick, then you’ll know that it’s NOT that expensive!

Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. World Nomads offers coverage for
more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip, check out World Nomads.

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