Parisian Living

The Best Books Set in Paris to Read Now

by Alessia Armenise
Left: the cover of the book "Books, Baguettes, and Bedbugs" by Jeremy Mercer. The cover is teal blue with white lettering and features an illustration of the bookstore Shakespeare and Company. There is a bookmark with a white tassel coming out of the left side of the top of the book. Right: the storefront of Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris. There is a dark green awning with the name of the shop written in white. There is a large portrait of William Shakespeare hanging over the front door and there are books in the two windows on either side of the door.
Top: Paris je t’aime / Above: rozczytane / prettylittleparis by mylondonfairytales

Another lockdown means fewer apéros with friends and more teas under a blanket. To satisfy your Paris cravings, we selected the best books set in Paris to read now, sure to transport you to the City of Light in a heartbeat. Enjoy!

“A Certain Smile” by Françoise Sagan

The second book by iconic French writer Françoise Sagan, “A Certain Smile” tells the story of Dominique, a Sorbonne student who starts a love affair with an older man, Luc. The couple spends two passion-filled weeks in Cannes, but once they are back in Paris, Dominique realizes that the feelings she has are not mutual.   

Left: the cover of the book "Zazie in the Metro" by Raymong Queneau. The cover features a black and white photo of a child smiling. The title and the name of the author are written in black inside a white box at the bottom of the cover. Right: the cover of "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" by Victor Hugo. The cover features an illustration of the Seine River in Paris. The authors name is written in white inside a red box at the top of the cover and the title of the book is written in black and is set against the illustration.
Zazie in the Metro / The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

“Zazie in the Metro” by Raymond Queneau

A classic of French literature, “Zazie in the Metro” follows the story of a teenager visiting her uncle in Paris. Zazie escapes from her uncle’s custody and starts exploring the city by herself. The book is written in an informal style and has been described as a parody of an epic poem. 

“The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”  by Victor Hugo

Probably one of the most famous stories that take place in Paris, “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” never gets old. You have probably seen plays, films, and cartoons telling Hugo’s story many times, but the extra time is a perfect excuse to re-discover this incredible piece of French literature. 

Left: an aerial view of the book "A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway. The book is on a wood table. There is an illustration of a Parisian café on the cover. The title of the book is written in black above the illustration. Right: An aerial view of the cover page of "A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway. There is a cup of coffee on the book and a few sprigs of greenery are on the book as well.
indiaannah / introverted.bookworm

“A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway

One of the most famous expats in Paris, Ernest Hemingway once said, “There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris.” And we couldn’t agree more. “A Moveable Feast” is a memoir of the author’s years living as a journalist and writer in Paris in the roaring 20s. A candid account of his life in the city that is a must-read for anyone dreaming of Paris.

Left: an aerial view of five books by Françoise Sagan. The books are arranged on a white table and include titles such as "A Certain Smile," "Bonjour Tristesse," and "Lost Profile." Right: the cover of "A Year in the Merde" by Stephen Clarke. The cover features an image of the Eiffel Tower with two snails on top of it, one has the British flag on its shell and the other has a French flag. The word "Merde" is written in blue, white, and red to represent the French flag.
yasminhoardsbooks / A Year in the Merde

“A Year in the Merde” by Stephen Clarke

If you are in the mood for a light read, look no further than “A Year in the Merde.” Clarke self-published the novel and got everyone to believe it was a memoir. Even though all the crazy things in the book didn’t actually happen to the author, Clarke’s is still one of the funniest stories ever written about life in Paris. 

“The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery

“The Elegance of the Hedgehog” is a tragic but rather amusing story that is both incredibly entertaining and full of meaning. Through the relationship that develops between an upper-class teenager and her concierge, Muriel Barbery reflects on social classes, culture, and human connection. 

Left: an aeriaview of the book "Paris for One" by Jojo Moyes. The book is in a basket with a bouquet of pink and white flowers and a wrapped gift. The title is written in white and the name of the author is written in red. Right: The cover of "Paris Letters" by Janice MacLeod. There is an illustration of the Eiffel Tower and the Café de Flore. The title and the author's name is written in blue.
alittlebitofbrandy / Paris Letters

“Paris for One” Jojo Moyes

A pick-me-up story that will make you want to book a ticket to Paris for one. The protagonist, Nell, was supposed to enjoy her first romantic weekend away with her boyfriend, but when he fails to show up, she decides to enjoy the city by herself. She meets the charming Fabien and is set for an adventure in “Paris for One.”

“Chéri” by Colette

Twenty-five-year-old Chéri is promised to be married to a young woman named Edmée, but he can’t seem to get Léa, 49, out of his mind. So much so that when Léa disappears and he gets in an argument with his wife, he decides to leave his marital home without explanation and only returns after Léa comes back to Paris. “Chéri” is an unusual and intriguing story that’s worth reading. 

Left: an aerial view of the book "Paris for One" by Jojo Moyes. The cover is light blue and the title is written in gold. The author's name is written in black. The book is on top of two other open books, and there is a cup of coffee in the bottom right corner. There is a pair a glasses in the upper left corner as well as a pine cone. Right: the cover of the book "Books, Baguettes, and Bedbugs" by Jeremy Mercer. The cover is teal blue with white lettering and features an illustration of the bookstore Shakespeare and Company.
blogwithclo / Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs

“Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs” by Jeremy Mercer

If you have ever been to Paris, you have probably visited one of the most iconic bookshops in the city (and in the world), Shakespeare and Co. Mercer’s memoir tells his experience as a struggling writer living in Paris and working at the famous bookshop.  

“Paris Letters” by Janice MacLeod

What would you do if your life plan turned out to be a disaster? After years in copywriting, the author decided that she wanted to find a way to have a more fulfilling life. After saving for two years, she bought a one-way ticket to Europe and never looked back. MacLeod creates painted letters about Paris that she sends out to dreamers around the world. In “Paris Letters,” she tells the story of how she changed her life, one letter at a time.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for supporting the blog in this way so we can continue to provide you with fabulous content. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Related Links

  • Are you more interested in cookbooks? Check out our favorite bistro cookbooks, Part One and Two
  • For even more books set in Paris, take a look at this list
  • These books would make wonderful gifts. If you’re looking for some French-inspired gift ideas, don’t miss Part One and Part Two of our gift guide

Written by Alessia Armenise for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates. 

Written By

Alessia Armenise

Alessia is a writer and creative based in Paris. After a few years working in London, she moved back to Paris and now writes freelance for media and brands, specialising in eco-luxury, slow travel and sustainability. Her work has been featured in Stylist, Milk Magazine and Grazia France among others. She also runs a sustainability and slow living focused website called Pretty Slow and hosts a podcast called Pretty Good Business. View Alessia Armenise's Website

7 comments on “The Best Books Set in Paris to Read Now

French Exit … a novel by Patrick deWitt upcoming film set in the 11th A. starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges

You can find a lot of great Paris books at Bill & Rosas’s Book Room. They have a special Paris/France section in both the lending library and in the books for sale.

Thanks for the suggestion!

As a French Tour Guide in Philadelphia I enjoyed very much your French books selection. Merci !

Merci! 🙂

Thanks for the article. It reminded me that I still haven’t read Bonjour tristesse. I immediately downloaded it onto my Kindle. Joyeuses fêtes !!

Joyeuses fetes and enjoy! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe without commenting

Vacation Rentals for Those Who Don’t just Travel, they Experience.

Boutique rentals from our trusted partner Haven In

Paris · Provence · Tuscany · London
ALL RENTALS
Join the HiP Paris Community
Receive our exclusive newsletter w/special offers, deals, giveaways, unique recipes from published authors plus insider travel tips and insights only for HiP readers.