Looking to read some books about Paris? Here are over 50 Paris books to add to your reading list, from the classics to contemporary novels, memoirs, books about Parisian history, food, and much more!
Paris is often nicknamed the “city of love,” or the “city of lights.” There’s just something magical about the city that inspires something within, and it has been the inspiration for many writers throughout time – countless Paris books have been written over the years.
Paris is one of my all-time favorite cities, and I, too, have been charmed by the romance, history, beautiful, Instagram-worthy places, world-class museums, and amazing food (especially the dessert!) – and I’ve found plenty to put on my Paris bucket list. You know what they say, “Paris is always a good idea”….and I wholeheartedly agree!
I often love reading books about my favorite cities because it helps me daydream about being there when I can’t be there, and reading books about Paris is no different. Throughout the years, I’ve read lots of books about Paris, and I still have a list of Paris books that I still need to read my way through. Before my last trip to Paris, I went on a reading binge of Paris books to help me get super excited while planning my Paris itinerary!
Now that I’m home, I’ve never stopped reading about the City of Lights and dreaming of another trip….especially now, since you know, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and it might be a while since I get over there again.
These Paris books also make awesome gifts for people who love Paris!
From novels to memoirs, to books about Paris history and food, I’ve rounded up 50 Paris books that you must add to your reading list!
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How to Read Books While Traveling
I am a HUGE lover of reading physical books – nothing beats the feel of holding an actual book in your hands, turning the pages, and well, even smelling it!
However, traveling with books is always a huge challenge because it adds soooo much weight and bulk to your luggage. For the longest time, I absolutely refused to get an e-reader, even though my friends RAVED about them, because I was such a staunch believer in reading physical books.
I finally caved and got myself a Kindle, thanks to a Black Friday deal and it’s changed my life! While I still prefer reading physical books, I have to admit that being able to load up books onto my Kindle and throwing it in my bags is sooo much easier and much less heavy than trying to lug around multiple books while traveling.
If you’re on a budget, I recommend a Kindle Fire, which is super affordable and also functions as a tablet. If you want the closest experience to reading an actual book and don’t mind paying a little bit more, many of my friends swear by the Kindle Paperwhite!
How to Read Paris Books for Free!
Because who doesn’t love free books?! Some of these books about Paris are available for free through a Kindle Unlimited subscription. Kindle Unlimited will give you access to over one million other free books as well! You can sign up for a free 30-day trial here. 🙂
The 50 Best Books About Paris
Classic Books About Paris
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”…so starts A Tale of Two Cities, one of the most famous books about Paris, with one of the most famous quotes about Paris of all-time.
Chances are that you’ve probably already read it in high school English class, but if you need a refresher (like me) – A Tale of Two Cities is set in Paris and London, during the 18th century right before and during the French Revolution. It follows the life of Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, two friends who fall for the same woman, Lucie Marnette.
Dickens makes commentary about self-sacrifice, violence, oppression, and excess in this literary classic.
Pssst…this title is available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited – sign up for a FREE 30-day trial here!
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Perhaps one of the most famous books about Paris, A Moveable Feast recounts Hemingways years as a young, struggling writer living in Paris during the roaring twenties. The book tells the tale of how Hemingway started as a poor writer struggling to find his voice to how he became one of the most famous writers of his generation. Other big names in literature make an appearance in this book, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein.
Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
This classic Paris book follows the tale of a mad priest, a wandering playwright, a social-climbing soldier, and the hunchbacked bellringer of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Quasimodo – all who are captivated by a spirited girl’s beauty and charm. The book garnered so much attention and acclaim when it was originally published, that it inspired a historic preservation movement and led to the renovations of the famous cathedral.
Le Miserables by Victor Hugo
Le Miserables recounts French history in the years following the French Revolution through the eyes of its characters, most notably Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, and Javert. It tells the story of how good deeds can happen, even in the midst of ignorance and poverty. You may have already seen the musical adaptation of Le Mis – a blockbuster on both Broadway and in Hollywood – why not read the book that inspired it, one of the most famous books about Paris?
Historical Fiction Books About Paris
All The Lights We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Marie-Laure has been blind since she was six years old, and depends on a model of their Paris neighborhood that her father built her to get around. When the Nazis invade Paris, they flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan whose knack for engineering lands him in a prestigious but brutal military academy, and is eventually enlisted to use his talents to bring down the resistance.Their paths eventually cross in the unlikeliest of ways, showing that against all odds, people can still be good to each other.
While this book only partially takes place in Paris (much of it is set in Saint Malmo), this is not only one of my favorite books about Paris, but one of my favorite books overall.
This one won all the accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize, when it came out and it is well deserved – Doerr does an excellent job interweaving the perspectives of the two main characters with beautifully written, poetic prose full of imagery. Definitely a must-read Paris book!
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
In The Paris Wife, Paula McLain tells the story of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. After a whirlwind romance, the couple moves to Paris and navigates their life during the debauchery of the Jazz Age of the 1920s.
The couple befriends many other writers and artists also living in Paris (some other big names that make an appearance in the book include James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein), while each grappling with their own individual struggles: Ernest trying to find the voice that would help him mark his place in history as one of the most influential writers of his generation, and Hadley to find her identity and sense of self amongst her roles as a wife, mother, friend, and muse.
Eventually, the Hemingways are brought to the ultimate crisis of their marriage, caused by the ultimate act of deception and betrayal. While this is a work of fiction, The Paris Wife draws many parallels from the actual events from the Hemingways’ lives and from this time in history.
While the story itself is heartbreaking, McLain does a beautiful job with research and character development that I got sucked in imagining the glitz and glamour of life in Paris during the 1920s.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Vianne is a schoolteacher raising her daughter as a single mother, keeping her head down and trying not to stir trouble while she waits for her husband to return from the war. Her sister Isabelle is spunky, independent, and stubborn, and decides to take matters into her own hands.
The Nightingale tells the story of the two sisters, and how they each play an integral part in the war effort, each in their own ways.
The book takes some liberties with the actual history of the time (and get a bit cliche at times), but it’s a gripping story and the pages kept turning. I also definitely cried at the end – yup, even this cold-hearted, unemotional, never-cries-at-anything girl!
The Paris Hours by Alex George
The Paris Hours depicts one single day in the lives of four principal characters, who are strangers to each other but their lives become intertwined by the end of the book.
Camille is the maid of Marcel Proust, who has asked her to burn his notebooks – except she has saved one for herself and is desperate to find it before her betrayal is revealed. Souren is an Armemian refugee who performs puppet shows for children – except they are nothing like the fairy tales they expect. Guillarme is a struggling artist who is running from a debt he cannot repay – but when Gertude Stein walks into his studio, he wonders if this is the day when his fortunes reverse. Jean-Paul is a journalist who tells other people’s stories, but is hiding his own painful secret.
The story is told through the perspective of each character as they reveal their past and the events that transpired to bring them to the present point in their lives. Their lives finally cross at the end of the book, and each of them finally discovers if they will find what they are looking for.
This is a beautifully written, captivating tale with plenty of surprises. The immersive read is steeped in emotion, and is full of beauty, music, tragedy, and hope.
Paris: The Novel by Edward Rutherford
Novelist Edward Rutherford is a master of the historical novel, and moves back and forth through time as he tells a dazzling tale of Paris. Rutherford weaves together the significant moments in Parisian history through the stories of a cast of different characters as they come of age, find love, and seek their fortunes. With his combination of impeccable research and beautiful narrative, Rutherford does an excellent job of bringing all the sights, sounds, scents, and tastes of the city to life.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
This is a compelling novel about the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup in 1942, as told in a dual-timeline format. Sarah is a 10-year old girl who hides her younger brother in a cupboard as she and her family are brutally arrested by the French police, thinking they would return in a few hours. Julia is a journalist writing an article about the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup on its 60th anniversary. Her research brings her to a trail of long-hidden secrets that lead her to Sarah’s story and retrace her horrific ordeal. An emotional, heart-wrenching story that brings to light the tragic events of this dark day, as well as Nazi-occupied France.
The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel
A moving and heartfelt novel set in World War II about Ruby, who falls in love with a dashing Frenchman – unfortunately, he grows distant and their marriage grows apart. After he is killed in the war, she discovers that he had a big secret – that he was working for the French resistance – and she becomes determined to continue his work.
When she starts hiding Allied soldiers, she meets Thomas, a charming RAF pilot, and Charlotte, a Jewish teenager whom she starts hiding in her apartment. As she risks her life, she receives a new family in return. An emotional and inspiring tribute to the power of humanity and love.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
The Lilac Girls follow three women whose lives collide when one of them is sent to Ravensbruck, a concentration camp in Austria. Their stories take readers on a journey through New York City, Paris, Germany, and Poland as they work to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten. Inspired by true history, The Lilac Girls is a compelling novel about the power of women to change history.
Contemporary Fiction Books About Paris
Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a “literary apothecary,” possessing a gift of being able to prescribe the perfect book to soothe the troubled souls of his customers on his floating bookshop on a beautifully restored barge on the Seine.
Unfortunately, the only person who he cannot seem to cure is himself. He has been ailed with a broken heart ever since the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a letter that he has never dared to open – until now.
With the help of his enigmatic neighbor, a bestselling but blocked author, along with a lovelorn Italian chef, he sets out on an adventure to the south of France, hoping to make amends and make peace with his loss.
I was charmed by the eccentric cast of characters in this book, who all made me laugh throughout the story. This is a heartwarming story, with plenty of beautifully written passages about life and happiness that I definitely reread and came back to to savor and contemplate, making it one of my favorite books about Paris.
The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
From the outside, Madeline seems like she has it all – yet underneath the surface, she feels trapped by an unhappy marriage, familial expectations, and a life she never wanted. When her marriage starts to fall apart, Madeline leaves for her hometown, where she stays with her highly critical, disapproving mother.
Meanwhile, she discovers the diary of her grandmother Margie, an elegant, reserved society woman that she barely knew. As she reads about her grandmother’s bold, romantic adventures in Jazz Age Paris, she discovers that she has more in common with her than she ever realized.
It is a touching, honest exploration of the dynamic of a mother-daughter relationship. However, my favorite thing about this book was the way Brown painted a vivid picture of 1920s Paris, and how the city has a certain magic that makes it seem like anything is possible there. It reminded me of the way I was captivated by the city on my own first visit to Paris.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Elegance of the Hedgehog follows three people in a luxury apartment building in the middle of Paris – Renee, the middle-aged, cantankerous, and seemingly unimpressive concierge, who has a secret love for all things art, music, philosophy, and culture; Paloma, a brilliantly smart and talented 12-year old girl who hides under the veneer of mediocrity and has decided that she will end her life on her 13th birthday; and Kakuro Ozu, the wealthy Japanese businessman who moves into the building and changes their lives.
The book starts out a little bit slow, and there isn’t much that happens in terms of plot, but it is beautifully written and the characters are quirky, unique, and memorable. I also loved the message behind the story, basically – “don’t be so quick to judge a book by its cover,” as well as the societal commentary it made.
Pssst…this title is available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited – sign up for a FREE 30-day trial here!
I am Having So Much Fun Without You by Courtney Maum
This is a reverse love story about Richard, a struggling British artist and father of one living in Paris. He is married to a beautiful French lawyer, from a wealthy family, who essentially supports him. Richard, however, is too busy mourning the fact that his American mistress just left him.
I am Having So Much Fun Without You follows Richard and his mishaps in the aftermath of his affair, and as he struggles to repair his marriage. You WANT to hate Richard, but you also feel kinda sorry for him, and well, he finds himself in some amusing situations.
Yes, it sounds a bit melodramatic and it’s hard to feel sorry for Richard – but – it’s smartly written, witty, and clever and Maum’s writing draws you in immediately.
Pssst…this title is available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited – sign up for a FREE 30-day trial here!
Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell
After surviving the accident that killed her mother, Claire Broussard has spent much of her life trying to escape her small-town Louisiana life. Even though she has worked hard and has found a lucrative career as a hotshot lawyer in Chicago, she feels something is missing. When she comes home to care for her ill grandmother, she finds a beautiful, mysterious mask that her grandfather sent her grandmother from Paris after World War II.
Intrigued, and at the urging of her grandmother, she travels to Paris to uncover the mystery behind the mask of L’Inconnue, only known as the “unknown woman.” She finds a series of letters telling the tale of the woman immortalized as a work of art. As she finds the secrets behind the mask, she unearths the secrets buried in her own life – and eventually falls in love with a surly mask-maker.
Told in the alternating viewpoints of Claire and Sabine, the woman known as L’Inconnue, this is a poignant tale about love, finding oneself, and picking up the pieces after tragedy.
The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell
If you enjoyed Letters from Paris, you may also enjoy The Paris Key, which is also written by Juliet Blackwell. Written in a similar style with alternating viewpoints, The Paris Key tells the story of Genevieve Martin, who reminisces about a summer in Paris spent as a young girl learning the art of locksmithing at her uncle’s side.
Nowadays, back living in the States, she’s become subdued, private, unsure of herself, and unhappy. However, Paris has never left her heart – so, when her marriage falls apart, she takes advantage of an opportunity to return to the city and take over her uncle’s business.
As she absorbs all that living in Paris has to offer, she uncovers family secrets that could alter their fate forever.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
After a muder in the Louvre museum, symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu discover clues in various Da Vinci paintings that lead to the discovery of a secret society that is closely guarding a secret that could upend the very foundations of Christianity.
This mystery-thriller explores an alternate religious history, and therefore became a very controversial book. It’s not my favorite, but I had to include it on this list because it was such a blockbuster novel – over 80 million copies (and counting) have been sold – and it does have an interesting premise.
Le Divorce by Diane Johnson
Le Divorce is a coming-of-age story of Isabel, a naive California girl. Isabel drops out of college and moves to Paris to help her pregnant stepsister, who is married to an aristocratic French painter and has landed herself a place in French society – until he leaves her for an American lawyer. What ensues is a social comedy about manners, class, social conventions, and customs.
The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain
When bookseller Laurent Letellier finds an abandoned purse on a Parisian street and reads the thoughts written in a red notebook contained within it, he embarks on a quest to hunt down its owner. The bag contains no wallet, keys, ID, or contact information – he only has a few items to help him find one woman in a city of millions. What ensues is a lovely, clever, quintessential French romance.
The French Exit by Patrick DeWitt
In this satire, a wealthy widow and her adult son flee New York for Paris in order to escape scandal and financial trouble. What lies ahead is, well, even more disaster. A darkly funny “tragedy of manners.”
Best Paris Books About Food
Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas
When self-proclaimed sweet freak Amy Thomas lands a dream job to write advertising copy for Louis Vuitton, she leaves Manhattan for the City of Lights. As she strolls through Paris’s charming streets and samples an endless array of sweet treats from the city’s many patisseries, she also embarks on a quest to find happiness, find her place in the world, and contemplates what it means to call a city home.
This book is a love letter to Paris, New York, and sweets. As a wannabe Parisienne and sweet fiend myself, it is no surprise that I enjoyed this book – and definitely found myself envious as Thomas made her way through the city and sampled all the pastries, chocolates, and sweet treats!
The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
Pastry chef and cookbook author David Lebovitz has dreamed of living in Paris all his life; when he finally moves there, he discovers that life in France isn’t quite what he expected.
The Sweet Life in Paris is Lebovitz’s account of what it feels like to live as an American in Paris and you’ll laugh out loud reading his hilarious observations about the sometimes maddening habits, social customs, and idiosyncrasies of Parisians. At some point though, Lebovitz realizes that he has become un vrai parisien, or a true Parisian himself. In between the laughs, Lebovitz shares 50 original recipes that will make you drool.
While there are countless memoirs written about the expat experience in Paris (I’ve listed several here), this one is one of my favorite books about Paris overall. While Lebovitz’s keen observations about the peculiarities of Parisians will have you rolling in laughter, his descriptions of the city, its beauty, and the delicious food he encounters will also make you fall in love with Paris and want to visit ASAP.
Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah
When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given an assignment in Paris, she is elated and immediately starts planning all her gastronomic adventures. Once they arrive in Paris, her husband is called away for a one-year assignment in Iraq.
Alone and lonely (and trying to navigate a long-distance marriage), Mah tries to find happiness by eating her way through France. She devotes each month (each chapter) traveling to a different part of France to learn more about their regional cuisine, learning about the history and and techniques behind some of France’s most famous culinary delights, such as buckwheat crepes, boeuf Bourguignon, and the perfect croissant.
I loved Mastering the Art of French Eating because not only did Mah’s beautiful descriptions of the food make me hungry, I also feel like I got a culinary education in French cuisine!
Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard
American Elizabeth Bard travels to Paris for a weekend trip, has a lunch date, and falls in love – and never returns home again. Lunch in Paris is about Bard’s love affair with both Gwendal, her beau (turned husband), and French cuisine.
While she struggles with adapting to life in a foreign country, loneliness, and finding professional success, she finds a world of open-air markets, hip French bistros, and charming sidewalk cafes. This is a story of how Bard finds herself through a newfound love for French food.
The tone is light-hearted, and I loved Bard’s sharp observations about the cultural differences and about being an American in Paris. Plus, there are mouth-watering recipes sprinkled throughout – I can’t wait to try them! A fun, quick read perfect for those who love Paris and food!
The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
Young Hassan Haji grows up living above his grandfather’s modest restaurant in Mumbai, where he eventually discovers a talent and affinity for cooking. When a tragic fire burns down the restaurant, the family settles in Lumiere, a small village in the French Alps.
They open a small restaurants across from an esteemed French restaurant, helmed by the famous chef Madame Mallory, who wages an all-out war with the family…until she discovers Hassan’s culinary talent and agrees to take him under her wing, leading him to Paris, where he eventually opens one of the city’s most prestigious restaurants.
I was intrigued by this novel because it was reviewed as being like “Slumdog Millionaire meets Ratatouille” and I found that to be a pretty accurate description. It’s hard not to salivate while reading Morais’s descriptive prose – reading about the food definitely made me hungry!
My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme
My Life in France tells the story of Julia Child’s life during her years in France, where she dove straight into learning and mastering French cooking, and eventually became a best-selling cookbook author and television personality. This is basically the story of how Julia Child became Julia Child, and what would later be the basis for the book and movie, Julie & Julia.
This is a must-read book for anyone who loves food! Child’s enthusiasm and passion for food, and cooking are absolutely contagious and the descriptions are so vivid and scrumptious that it will leave you dreaming of some beef bourguignon or sole meuniere. Plus, her personality shines through so much that it’s almost as if Julia Child is sitting down and telling you her life story herself!
I also loved the underlying message behind the book. Child wasn’t always a master chef – and started learning how to cook well into her 30s – nor did she speak a world of French when she arrived in Paris. It’s also a story about finding your passion and your true calling.
I also loved this firsthand account of being an American living in France in the 1950s and 1960s, which is a different perspective than all the other expat memoirs that are listed on this list of Paris books.
Between Meals by AJ Liebling
In Between Meals, writer AJ Libebling recounts his time wining and dining his way through Paris in the 1920s. With his beautifully written prose, he captivates readers as he brings the description of each elaborate meal and each glass of wine to life. A celebration of fine French cuisine and wine!
Best Paris Memoirs
The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart
While walking his kids to school, Thad Carhart stumbles upon a mysterious storefront in his Paris neighborhood. Intrigued by its sign,, he eventually finds out that the store – named Desforges Pianos – is a secret hangout for locals. He eventually develops a friendship with the store’s patrons as well as rekindles a love for music and pianos.
Because I played piano for 12 years, I found this book fascinating – I learned a lot about pianos itself and the history of its development. Reading about Carhart picking up the piano again definitely made me want to do the same as well!
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
I’ve always loved David Sedaris’s hilarious essay collections, and Me Talk Pretty One Day is my all-time favorite. Me Talk Pretty One Day is a collection of 27 essays – the first focuses on Sedaris’s boyhood in North Carolina, his time in college, and falling in love while living in New York City; the second part is about his eventual move to Paris.
Along the way, Sedaris encounters lots of mishaps and lives to tell the tale. Several of Sedaris’s essays focus on his time trying to learn French in Paris and are absolutely hysterical. This collection also contains my all-time favorite Sedaris essay, “Big Boy,” which is about the time he attended a dinner party and found a giant piece of poop floating in the toilet. What ensues will make you laugh so hard you cry!
The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino
In The Only Street in Paris, journalist Elaine Sciolino takes readers on a tour of her favorite Paris street, the famous Rue des Martyrs in the Montmarte neighborhood. This is a street that offers everything, from a rich history, beautiful architecture, interesting shops, and a lively cast of characters of residents and shopkeepers.
The book pays homage to the vibrant street life of Paris, and paints a picture of daily life of the Rue des Martyrs. In introducing us to fascinating inhabitants of Rue des Martyrs as well as its stories history, Sciolino, the former Paris bureau chief of the New York Times, takes readers on a journey through one of the most interesting areas of Paris.
I loved this book because it gives a unique perspective into the life of true Parisians, one not usually seen by most tourists.
My Paris Dream by Kate Betts
After spending some time studying abroad in Paris and staying with a young BCBG (bon chic, bon genre) family and falling in love with the local culture, Kate Betts vows that she will one day live there and have a glamorous job.
Well, it wasn’t an easy road and she picks up plenty of not-so-glamorous jobs to pay her dues, Betts finally lands a gig at Women’s Wear Daily. Through her whirlwind adventures in the world of fashion and magazine publishing, she learns about herself, falls in love, and finds her tribe.
I was super intrigued by this book because I’d always wanted to work in magazines! I loved the behind-the-scenes look at the publishing and fashion industry (which isn’t always as glamorous as it seems on the outside), and admired Betts’s go-getter personality as she chased after her dreams.
L’Appart by David Leibovitz
When David Leibovitz decides to renovate his Parisian apartment, he encounters so much inexplicable red tape due to the perplexing attitudes, work ethic, and hours of the French. Luckily, he lives to tell the tale with his distinctive humor and wit which will have you laughing out loud. If you loved My Sweet Life in Paris (included earlier on this list of books about Paris, under Best Paris Books About Food), you’ll love this one! Like My Sweet Life in Paris, Leibovitz sprinkles delicious original recipes throughout the book.
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter
In The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, acclaimed author and longtime Paris resident John Baxter recounts his time giving literary walking tours of the city.
As he leads tourists through the streets where Paris’s most famous artists and writers once lived and worked, he tells the story and the history of the city’s most fascinating residents, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Pablo Picasso. An off-the-beaten-path look into the city as told through a true Paris lover and local.
Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co. by Jeremy Mercer
Shakespeare & Co. is has a long-standing reputation as one of the best bookstores in Paris, famous for being a meeting place for one of the most well-known anglophiles in literature, including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzerald, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein. When Canadian journalist Jeremy Mercer discovers Shakespeare & Co., he falls down a literary rabbit hole.
Time Was Soft There is about his encounter with the store and its owner (who is well-known for helping struggling writers), staff, and customers, as well as a tribute to literary history and of Paris itself.
Romantic Paris Books
Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
This charming collection of nine short stories starts off with the novella-length “Paris for One,” which tells the tale of 26-year old Nell, a shy English girl who isn’t exactly known for being the adventurous type.
When she plans her first trip to Paris with her boyfriend – who fails to show up – she decides to take it as an opportunity to prove everyone (including herself) wrong. While conquering the streets of Paris by herself, she meets a version of herself that she never knew existed, and it changes her life.
Of course, she meets a handsome Parisian along the way. I loved this story because, as a huge proponent of solo traveling, it shows how one good solo adventure can change your life and help you discover the best version of yourself. I cheered for Nell as she transformed into a new, independent, confident woman as she made her way through the streets of Paris. Plus, it was just a cute love story set in the most romantic city in the world.
Eight shorter stories round out the book, but the title story was by far my favorite. If you are a fan of Jojo Moyes’s other books (i.e. Me After You), you’ll love this one, even though it is slightly different than her other works.
The Paris Letters by Janice McLeod
Sitting at her corporate copywriting job in Los Angeles one day, overworked and burnt out, Janice McLeod thinks to herself – “there must be more to life than this.” And, so she devises a plan to move to Paris.
A few days upon arrival in Paris, she meets Christophe, the James Bond look-alike from down the street. He doesn’t speak English; she barely speaks French, but they embark on a whirlwind romance anyways, and she soon realizes that she can never return to her old life.
And so, she turns to her passion – art and words – to fund her Paris dreams. She starts keeping a blog about her time in Paris, as well as selling and sending hand-written letters, hand-painted letters, each depicting a scene out of her life in Paris.
A sweet, happily-ever-after love story, but also a lovely, inspiring story about following your dreams – it definitely inspired me to keep chasing mine!
Seven Letters from Paris by Samantha Verant
At 40 years old, Samantha Verant is divorced, unemployed, bankrupt, and living with her parents – she feels stuck and like her life is falling apart. One day, she finds old love letters from Jean-Luc, the hunky Frenchman that she met on a trip to Paris when she was 19.
A quick Google search later, the two reconnect and rekindle a passionate love affair that they realize has surpassed both time and distance.
This is a charming love story that is a tribute to the power of an old-fashioned love letter. This is the perfect book for a hopeless romantic, but even if you’re not (like me), it will make you believe in the power of love. It’s a quick, light-hearted read and the perfect love story!
PS From Paris by Marc Levy
Mia is a famous actress who needs a break from her cheating husband (who also happens to play her on-screen love interest in all her blockbuster movies). Paul is a struggling American writer hoping to recapture the success and magic of his first novel.
When Mia decides that she’s had enough of her husband’s infidelity, she escapes to Paris and hides behind a new look, pretends to be a waitress at her best friend’s restaurant. When Paul’s friends secretly set him up with Mia through a dating website, they embark on a relationship that is, well, complicated.
Levy is one of France’s most popular authors, and several of his novels have been turned into movie adaptations. It’s easy to see why – he knows how to write a good rom-com!
Sure, the story is predictable, but it’s a fun, enjoyable read. The characters are charming and engaging, and the story is sweet, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested in what will happen next. A perfect Paris book for when you want a quick, light-hearted read!
Pssst…this title is available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited – sign up for a FREE 30-day trial here!
Books About Paris History
How Paris Became Paris by Joan DeJean
This book focuses on the transformation of Paris from what was once an urban disaster to a modern metropolis that it is today. DeJean argues that the vision for the modern-day Paris was drawn up in the 16th and 17th centuries. This is a fascinating look into how Paris became the city it is today, one that would revolutionize the conception of city and urban life.
Metronome: A History of Paris from the Underground Up by Lorant Deutsch
This is a fascinating look into the history of Paris through the city’s iconic Metro system. In Metronome, Deutsch uses 21 metro stops as a focal point to tell the history of Paris, showing it from the underground up. Full of anecdotes about the hidden treasures of Paris, Metronome tells a unique account of Paris history.
Paris Reborn by Stephane Kirkland
Paris as we know it was born in the nineteenth century, thanks to the vision of Napoleon III and his trusted accomplice, Baron Haussmann. Paris Reborn focuses on the years between 1848 and 1870 which transformed the city into what it is today. A must read for anyone who has wondered exactly how Paris became the magnificent, beautiful city that it is known as today.
Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb
In Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris, Graham Robb tells the stories of the great, the near-great, and the forgotten people of Paris. Told through 20 vignettes about some of the most fascinating characters in Parisian history, Parisians reads like a great novel, combining the best of a tourist guide and urban history.
Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne
This in-depth history of Paris tells the story of the city, its culture, and its people over the last 1000 years. Every major figure and event in Parisian history is covered in this book, and is an account of how Paris has survived and transformed through the ages, becoming more beautiful and brilliant than the last. A meticulously researched and compulsively readable tribute to the city and its vivid history.
Other Books About Paris
Stuff Parisians Like by Olivier Magny
If you’ve always wanted an insight into the minds of Parisians, and wanted to know what they really like, then definitely read Stuff Parisians Like. Magny, who also authors a blog of the same name, writes with sharp, tongue-in-cheek insights.
If you’ve ever read or heard about the superiority complex, the walking contradictions, or the strain customs of Parisians, then you’ll LOVE this book! I’m not entirely sure if all of these commentaries are accurate, but they will leave you laughing out loud, guaranteed!
How to be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas
If you’ve wondered what makes Parisian women so effortlessly chic and sophisticated, then How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are is for you! Written by a group of four stylish girlfriends, this book is a collection of quips, thoughts, and lists that explain the mysteries behind what it means to be a modern Parisienne.
It is written in a light-hearted, wry tone, and the group is never afraid to poke fun at the sometimes maddeningly contradictory aspects of their behavior. The result is a fun, informal guide on the contemporary Parisian woman – it almost feels like these girlfriends are your friends, and that they are giving you all their secrets!
Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom
While this book is not entirely set in Paris, the first chapter covers Rosenbloom’s time as a solo traveler in Paris. I loved this book because it shows readers the beauty of traveling alone and why it’s awesome – and reading about Rosenbloom’s time in Paris really made me think about how Paris sparked something inside of me as a solo traveler.
If you want the inspiration to embark on your own solo adventures (I highly recommend it!), I definitely recommend reading Alone Time!
Bring Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman
When American journalist Pamela Druckerman moves to Paris and has a baby, she starts noticing differences between American and French babies. So, she starts to investigate and find out whys and hows. Researched over three years, Bringing Up Bebe is a funny, charming, yet wise look into parenting.
Obviously a great Paris book to read if you are a parent or parent-to-be, but I’ve heard that Druckerman’s hilarious, self-deprecating anecdotes make this a great read for those without children as well.
Paris versus New York by Varham Muratyan
A delightful comparison of Paris and New York, two of the world’s most magical cities, as told through the lens of a popular travel writer who is a lover of Paris wandering through New York. When Varham Muratyan started his online travel journal of the same name, he had no idea that it would turn into an online sensation, one of the most buzzed about sites on the Internet. Paris versus New York combines Muratyan’s unique observations and witty taglines with visually striking graphics. A must for lovers of both cities!
Paris in Color by Nicole Robertson
This coffee table book is a collection of photographs shot in Paris, all arranged by color and focusing on the delicious details that celebrate the beauty of Paris. As a color fiend and photography enthusiast, I loooooved this one!
Robertson has a phenomenal eye, and is adept at seeking out the little details that most others miss. Flipping through the photos in this book definitely inspired me to take more time to find and photograph all the little nooks and crannies of Paris on my next trip!
This Paris book is a must for color, design, photography, and travel lovers!
What are some of your Paris books?
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