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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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- 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.
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 !
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! 🙂