My Life in France My Life in France discussion

Books about / stories set in Paris?

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message 1: by Lily Anne (new)

Lily Anne I'm about to go on a vacation trip to Paris (my first time ever), and I'd appreciate any recommendations for books that are set in Paris (preferably fiction - I already have a good guidebook).

message 2: by Jason (new)

Jason There's always Hugo's Les Miserables which has very accurate descriptions of the infamous Parisian sewer system (he knew the man who designed them and had his help when writing the book. in fact, i believe the book was used to clear up information about the sewers which became very complex and difficult to keep track of). there's a fun tour you can take that lets you actually go down into part of the sewers.

Also, Raymond Queneau's "Zazie on the Metro." Calvino's "A Hermit in Paris." Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast." Those are a few of my favorites. I read A Moveable Feast months before I went to Paris and then wished I had waited.

Or if you have no respect for yourself, there's always teh Da Vinci Code.

message 3: by Kate (new)

Kate Another set-in-Paris book:

"Goodmorning, Midnight" by Jean Rhys. Not very uplifting, but set in Paris, nonetheless. Also, it's quite a good book.

message 4: by Lily Anne (new)

Lily Anne Thanks so much for your suggestions. Another gem I discovered - "Paris to the Moon" by Adam Gopnik. It's a collection of personal essays by Gopnik (writer for the New Yorker magazine) about his experiences living in Paris during the second half of the 1990s with his wife and young son. Very entertaining and thoughtful.

Incidentally, I did read Da Vinci Code (against my better judgment) back when it was all the rage and was really, really annoyed by the story and writing style. I even avoided checking out the Mona Lisa when I went to the Louvre because of the long lines of other tourists who had all been inspired by Da Vinci Code.

message 5: by Kate (new)

Kate That's so funny you mention, "From Paris to the Moon"! I NEARLY mentioned it, except it came out when I was working at a bookstore: thus, it was one of those "buzz" books where everyone says, "I've heard it's good" but no one's actually read it and then when the noise dies down and yout talk to people who have read it the verdict is that it was "okay." And I learned long ago not to recommend books to people which I have not read myself. I'm glad you liked it, though! Now that I have realistic expectations about the book, perhaps I'll try it myself. :)

Kristin "A Year in Provence" was pretty good (though I liked "My Life in France" better).

Christina "My Life in France", by Julia Childs is wonderful. Her love of French cooking is infectious, and she also provides good insights into life in France. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who plans to go to Paris.

Mkotch Sarah's Key starts in Paris and is an interesting look at an incident/time that is largely forgotten or unknown in the US.

Kristen I agree with Jason on A Moveable Feast and Christina on My Life in France I loved them both.

message 10: by Robin (new) - rated it 1 star

Robin A Moveable Feast is good, The Paris Wife is Good. Paris to the Moon is good. All books about Italy and France, I am there in spirit!

message 11: by Renee (last edited Jul 17, 2011 07:56PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Renee I was enchanted by My Life in France but for fiction that takes place in contemporary Paris, nothing is better than Cara Black’s Aimee Leduc series. In fact, each book centers on a crime that takes place in a different arrondissement. Many reviewers have commented that Paris is a a character in these books and I agree. There is even a (at one time) free Kindle publication that is a guide to Aimee's Paris.

message 12: by Robin (new) - rated it 1 star

Robin I'll look for Cara Black's books. Thanks for the update.

message 13: by Ellemiek (new) - added it

Ellemiek "The Sharper the Knife the less you cry" is set in Paris. It is the reason I will go to the Cordon Blue and live in Paris myself!! (one day)

Pippin Suite Francais is partially set in Paris during WWII. It is an intriguing book (
it is not a contemporary novel, but still a 'good read'.
how about a mystery: Maigret mysteries by Georges Simenon or a contemporary mystery by Cara Black : Murder in the Rue de Paradis (
or something of particular interest to Americans in Paris:
The Greater Journey by David McCullough (

How was your trip by the way?

Danielle Ellemiek wrote: ""The Sharper the Knife the less you cry" is set in Paris. It is the reason I will go to the Cordon Blue and live in Paris myself!! (one day)"

I've read quite a few books about Le Cordon Bleu,it seems a lot of people who go there decide to write about it. The Sharper the Knife wasn't a favourite for me. If you are interested in reading more on the subject you can find them on my bookshelves(most likely on the Food Books or Memoir shelves)

message 16: by Jana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jana Postcards from France is a sweet book from an exchange student that I really enjoyed. It's more about the countryside, though.

message 17: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Lily Anne wrote: "I'm about to go on a vacation trip to Paris (my first time ever), and I'd appreciate any recommendations for books that are set in Paris (preferably fiction - I already have a good guidebook)."

Let's see...A Moveable Feast and My Life in Paris have already been suggested, but enjoyed them both. I have had an interest in Shakespeare & Co. for a while, and I have Chasing Sylvia Beach on my Kindle and have heard it's good too, although I haven't strated it yet.

message 18: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Robin wrote: "A Moveable Feast is good, The Paris Wife is Good. Paris to the Moon is good. All books about Italy and France, I am there in spirit!"

I adored The Paris Wife!

Emily My vote goes for Americans in Paris and My Life in France!

Karen Loved Julia Child's My Life in France also to follow the culinary theme, Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious and Perplexing City, by David Lebovitz.

Wow, I just realized that this thread is a couple months old :)

message 21: by Amy (new)

Amy Robinson I am trying to remember the title of a book I had years ago. It was a collection of short stories from Paris, true ones I believe. There was one about exploring the catacombs, and one about describing women's health issues to parisien doctors. Very entertaining, but I can't for the life of me remember any more details!


Pippin Hi Amy,
just poking around looking to answer your question. was it maybe Paris, Paris City of Light:

he has several other collections about paris...


message 23: by Amy (new)

Amy Robinson Thanks for taking a look Pippin. That looks like a great book, but the one I had was definitely published either around or pre- 2000. I've had no luck tracking it down. I appreciate you taking the time to reply!

Therese A devoted Francophile, I adored My Life in France, and so decided to delve more deeply into Julia's life there. Lo and behold, it led me to her lifelong love for cats, beginning with Minette, her first Parisian poussiequette, as she called them. And so I wrote a book about that. It's a lighthearted look at Julia and Paul Child's life with emphasis on the Paris and Provence years.
Julia's Cats: Julia Child's Life in the Company of Cats

Harriett Milnes I really liked Dreaming in French.

Macee The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

message 27: by Meg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Meg Bortin Hi, I'm new to Goodreads but I've lived in Paris for nearly 40 years. Here are some suggestions:
Mastering the Art of French Eating, by Ann Mah. Just out, it's the story of a woman who, like Julia Child, followed her diplomat husband to Paris and had to find a way to make a life of her own.
The Left Bank, by Herbert Lottman, a classic about cultural life in Paris during the Nazi occupation of World War II.
Paris Was Yesterday, by Janet Flanner, dispatches for the New Yorker from the 1920s and 30s.
And finally my own newly published book, Desperate to Be a Housewife, in which my alter ego, Mona Venture, moves to Paris in the 1970s and becomes a reporter in the midst of the counterculture revolution over here.
Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris
Paris Was Yesterday
Desperate to Be a Housewife

message 28: by Therese (last edited Nov 27, 2013 09:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Therese Thanks for the recommendations. Janet Flanner's "Paris Journal" (2 volumes) is a collection of her dispatches from Paris spanning decades - priceless for anyone who wants to delve deeply into Parisian daily life. It was a valuable resource when researching my book, "Julia's Cats: Julia Child's Life in the Company of Cats." Julia would frequently see Flanner writing away at her regular cafe table on the Blvd St-Germaine-des-Pres. (The nom de plume, "Flanner," from the French, "flaneur" -- a stroller/observer in the city.)

Mandy The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene. A fictional novel about WWII

Lorie The Piano Shop on the Left Bank. It's about purchasing and playing piano, but it's a wonderful story about the neighborhoods of small shops of Paris. It's gives a nice feel for the city.

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