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All European countries are on my bucket list, but France is the top destination I’m eager to visit, but for some reason, still haven’t been able to make it happen. I’ve been dreaming for years about cities like Paris, Lyon, and Bordeaux, the villages of Alsace and Provence, the country’s amazing natural landscapes, the patisseries, and the wine. So until I can explore it in real life, I have the company of some of the best books about France that are doing such a good job of transporting me to another land.
BEST BOOKS SET IN FRANCE – TOP 10 PICKS
If you don’t want to go through this entire list right now, here are my top ten picks:
- ‘All the Flowers in Paris’ by Sarah Jio
- ‘The President’s Hat’ by Antoine Laurain
- ‘The Paris Secret’ by Lily Graham
- ‘Summer in Provence’ by Lucy Coleman
- ‘Villa of Sun and Secrets’ by Jennifer Bohnet
- ‘The Promise of Provence’ by Patricia Sands
- ‘The Nightingale’ by Kristin Hannah
- ‘The Secret of the Chateau’ by Kathleen McGurl
- ‘The Vineyards of Champagne’ by Juliet Blackwell
- ‘The Lost Castle’ by Kristy Cambron
BEST BOOKS ABOUT FRANCE SET IN PARIS
THE LITTLE PARIS PATISSERIE
‘The Little Paris Patisserie’ is a stand-alone in a seven-book series set in different places in Europe. With the most beautiful cover and the words ‘Paris’ and ‘Patisserie’ in the title, it’s obvious why this book gets you hooked from the very beginning.
It follows Nina, the youngest of four siblings and a baker at heart. When an offer to teach a patisserie course in Paris pops in, she decides to take a break from her overwhelming family and seize the opportunity to improve her baking skills. Oh, and did I mention that the patisserie’s owner is her teenage crush? (you know what that means)
DEATH BY BAGUETTE
A wanderlust-fueling murder mystery set in Paris? Yes, please! Tour guide Lana Hansen has to go on a Valentine’s Day group trip to Paris with five couples. And surprise, surprise – one of the couples includes her boyfriend, Chad, and…his wife! When Chad suddenly drops dead and seems to be poisoned, the betrayed Lana soon becomes a suspect, along with other members of the group.
With an intriguing plot filled with quirky characters and mouthwatering descriptions of Paris, ‘Death By Baguette’ is the perfect cozy mystery.
ONE CHRISTMAS IN PARIS
Paris, Christmas markets, food, and love? Hell yeah! With the most magical and romantic setting, ‘One Christmas in Paris’ is the perfect book to read with a cup of hot chocolate while snuggling under the blanket.
This cozy novel follows Ava, who recently lost her job and boyfriend, and now, her best friend whisks her away on a winter trip to Paris. There she meets Julien, who deals with personal issues of his own, but as you can guess – sparks fly, and this is a turning point for both of them.
ALL THE FLOWERS IN PARIS
If you love WWII historical fiction, you must read ‘All the Flowers in Paris’!
In Nazi-occupied Paris in the early 1940s, Celine lives with her father and daughter Cosi. When a German officer lays his eyes on her and finds out she’s part Jewish, he sends her father away and keeps her as a prisoner, but Cosi manages to join her and hide in her room.
Meanwhile, in 2009 in Paris, Caroline is involved in an accident and wakes up with no memory. When she returns to her apartment, she finds a parcel of letters written by Celine. Although she doesn’t know her, she feels that discovering what happened to Celine and her family will also help piece her own life back together.
SOMEDAY IN PARIS
If you’re looking to submerge yourself in a powerful love tale, but don’t want to read yet another rom-com (they’re addictive, but I get the need in change), ‘Someday in Paris’ is for you.
This complex emotional story follows Zara and Leon, who met as teenagers at an art museum. They can’t see each other because the power has gone out, but they feel an instant connection and spend an hour talking about their love for Paris and art.
Over the course of 20 years, they cross paths over and over again, but life keeps separating them. Will fate finally bring them together or was it just not meant to be?
THE PRESIDENT’S HAT
Taking place in 1986 in Paris, ‘The President’s Hat’ is a quirky, witty, entertaining novel. When the French president leaves behind his hat in a Parisian brasserie, Daniel – the man who sits at the next table – decides to take it and try it on. He feels it’s changing his life for the better, but when he forgets the hat on a train, the good fortune now comes to the woman who picks it up. And so we follow the hat’s journey, as it is passed from one Parisian to another, transforming each one’s life.
THE ROOM ON RUE AMÉLIE
A beautiful story about love and loss, bravery, and hope, ‘The Room on Rue Amelie’ is a wonderful historical fiction set in France during the Second World War. The lives of three people intersect in Paris during WWII – an American woman who moved to Paris to marry a French guy, her Jewish teenage neighbor, and a British Royal Air Force pilot. As fate brings them together, they fight to survive.
THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING
Hope is a divorced single mother who is about to lose her bakery and her grandmother, who suffers from dementia. In a moment of clarity, she gives Hope a mysterious list of people and asks her to visit Paris and find out what happened to them. Slowly, Hope discovers the secrets of her grandmother’s past, including the fact that she is actually a Holocaust survivor.
A touching tale that tackles many different topics (like love, war, and religion), ‘The Sweetness of Forgetting’ is easily one of the best novels set in France.
THE PARIS CHILDREN
Based on the true story of Madeleine Levy, a young French Jewish woman (and the granddaughter of the infamous WWI officer Alfred Dreyfus), ‘The Paris Children’ is an incredible historical fiction set in WWII Paris.
Beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time, it follows Madeleine as she works with other members of the resistance to save as many Jewish children as she can.
ONE SUMMER IN PARIS
An uplifting tale about life, family, friendship, love, and self-discovery, ‘One Summer in Paris’ is an easy-to-read novel.
Suddenly alone after 25 years of marriage, Grace decides to go alone on the surprise trip to Paris she had planned for her husband. The 18-year-old Audrey needs a break from her dysfunctional alcoholic mother and sets out to spend a summer in Paris working in a bookshop.
The two end up meeting in the city of lights, and despite their age difference and completely opposite personalities, they form a strong relationship and help each other move forward with their lives.
THE PARIS SECRET
Captivating and well-written, ‘The Paris Secret’ is a magnificent historical novel.
Valerie was three years old when she was sent from Paris to live with relatives in England at the end of WWII. In her 20’s, she finds out her grandfather is still alive and is determined to know why he didn’t raise her. She gets a job at his Parisian bookshop (without telling him who she is) to find out more about her family, and thus the secrets of the past begin to unravel.
MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS
If you’re like me and you love reading a young-adult book every once in a while, add ‘My Secret Guide to Paris’ to your reading list.
This is the story of Nora, a young girl with a dream of traveling to Paris with her grandmother, who unfortunately dies in an accident before they have the chance to make that dream come true. When she finds a locked box, plane tickets to Paris, and scavenger hunt clues at her grandmother’s house, she goes on an adventure with her mother and brother.
THE PAPER GIRL OF PARIS
Another dual timeline historical fiction you’ll surely love is ‘The Paper Girl of Paris.’ This one follows Alice, as she sets out to find out what happened in her grandmother’s past after she dies and leaves her an apartment in Paris that hasn’t been touched since WWII and that she didn’t know existed.
I DON’T REALLY NEED YOU
Both funny and touching, ‘I Don’t Really Need You’ is an easy-to-read novel (set in Paris and Bordeaux’s vineyards) that follows friends Chloe and Constance. While Chloe is more of a one-night-stand kind of girl, Constance is a hopeless romantic in search of her prince charming. The fun starts when they make a bet and challenge each other to be more like the other…
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME
I don’t think Victor Hugo’s heartbreaking novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’ needs any introduction, so if you’re in for a French classic, give this book a read!
These books can also an amazing gift for Paris lovers!
BEST NOVELS ABOUT FRANCE’S SOUTHERN REGIONS
LATE SUMMER IN THE VINEYARD
Life, love, wine, and the south of France – what could be a better combination?
‘Late Summer in the Vineyard’ follows Emmy, who has put her own happiness aside to take care of her dad. When they’re about to lose their home, an unexpected (yet not so glamorous) job opportunity comes along, and she is sent to France to learn the business of wine. As you might imagine, she falls in love with France, wine-making, and a man, but most importantly, she finds herself and her true desires.
ESCAPE TO THE FRENCH FARMHOUSE
With a wanderlust-fueling backdrop of Provence’s lavender fields, ‘Escape to the French Farmhouse’ is a perfect escapist novel about second chances (with a touch of romance and even some baking).
After a few failing rounds of IVF, Del and Ollie want to have a fresh start in France. When things don’t go to plan, Ollie moves back to the UK, but Del decides to stay in France and start a new life without him. Follow her journey of self-discovery, as she becomes a part of the local community and builds a new life for herself.
A RIVIERA RETREAT
‘A Riviera Retreat’ is a heart-warming novel that will transport you the French Riviera.
Amy owns a villa in the Cote d’Azur, where she runs a creative retreat. She decides to run a competition and give away three free trips to the villa, and so she meets Chelsea, Matilda, and Victoria. Each one has her own problems, yet together, they manage to form a strong friendship and change each other’s lives, including Amy’s.
A VERY FRENCH AFFAIR
When her son finally wants to meet his father, single-mom Liv has to track down her first love, Andre. After 20 years, she returns to the south of France, where she also needs to help her aunt at her bakery. This is where she first discovered her love for baking, which means there are plenty of cakes and pastries involved in the story.
From wondering how to contact Andre to worrying about telling him he has a son to realizing she still has feelings for him, Liv has a lot to deal with. Luckily, the plot is topped with a lot of humor, delicious food, and a stunning setting, which makes ‘A Very French Affair’ the perfect summer read.
DREAMING OF ST-TROPEZ
Looking for a laugh-out-loud romance that will make you want to hop on a plane to France? Add ‘Dreaming of St-Tropez’ to your reading bucket list!
After losing her job for standing up for herself, Jess is offered to dog-sit a former client’s adorable, chubby pup in St. Tropez. With Brutus the dog, her best friend Hope (who joins the trip), her client’s handsome grandson, and the stunning setting, you can imagine that Jess is in for quite an adventure.
SUMMER IN PROVENCE
When Fern and Aiden win the lottery and think of what they want to do with the money, they realize that each has completely different dreams.
As they decide to take a gap year in their marriage, Aiden travels to Australia and Fern volunteers at an art retreat in a château in Provence, where she can go back to her forgotten love of drawing and learn new creative skills.
Read ‘Summer in Provence’ to follow Fern through her year in southern France, and discover whether it made her want to go back to Aiden or did it grew them further apart.
POPPY’S PLACE IN THE SUN
I will never get enough of cheesy feel-good romantic novels, and ‘Poppy’s Place in the Sun’ is another one of them. Poppy and her trio of pups move to a charming little village in southern France. She planned to have her boyfriend by her side, but after he dumped her by text, she decided to go on this adventure on her own.
She manages to make new friends and begins to become a part of the community, but for some reason, the local vet Leo doesn’t seem to like her so much. Yet what starts as a love-hate (or hate-hate) relationship, slowly becomes a passionate romance.
YOU HAD ME AT BONJOUR
Following Jessica, a newly divorcee who decides to take a gap year in the south of France, ‘You Had Me At Bonjour’ is quite a short chick-lit you can easily read within a couple of hours.
The book is written in the form of a diary, through which you’ll go on a journey with Jessica as she reclaims her life, makes new friends, adapts to life in southern France, and even finds a new love interest.
THE FRENCH FOR LOVE
Within a couple of months, Gina has lost her job, boyfriend, and beloved aunt, who left her a cottage in Bordeaux’s countryside. As she spends time at her aunt’s home in France in hopes to have a fresh start, she also works on her Masters of Wine qualification, learns about life in a small French village, finds a new love, and even discovers a family secret.
ROSIE’S LITTLE CAFÉ ON THE RIVIERA
After finally making her dream of opening a cafe on the French Riviera come true, Rosie faces some unexpected challenges and characters like a Michelin star chef who has taken over the hotel next door, a persistent ex-boyfriend, and an estranged father.
Don’t be confused by this book’s title because ‘Rosie’s Little Café on the Riviera’ actually follows two more women whose lives intertwine with Rosie’s – Erica, recently widowed with a teenage daughter, and GeeGee, a real estate agent who is struggling in every aspect of her life. If you’re looking for a heartwarming, uplifting summer read, this one is for you!
THE PROMISE OF PROVENCE
Suddenly alone after 22 years of marriage, Katherine needs to start over. Breaking out of her comfort zone, she takes part in a home exchange holiday in southern France. Yes, there’s some romance, but the focus in this book is on Katherine’s journey of healing and rediscovering who she is.
If you’re looking for a self-discovery novel that will also ignite your wanderlust, give ‘The Promise of Provence’ a read (and don’t forget about its sequels – ‘Promises to Keep’ and ‘I Promise You This’).
TO PROVENCE, WITH LOVE
When teacher/author Faye gets an offer to write the biography of a former movie star and live in a chateau in Provence, how can she say no? While working for the aging actress, she also meets local lavender farmer, Gavin, and slowly but surely, the two become closer and closer.
With mouthwatering backdrop, romance, and a few secrets waiting to be revealed, ‘To Provence, With Love’ is a fantastic feel-good read.
VILLA OF SUN AND SECRETS
After losing her mother and discovering her husband is cheating on her again, soon-to-be-50 Carla sets off to southern France to visit her estranged aunt (her mother’s twin sister), Josette. Little by little, she forms a deep relationship with her and unravels her family’s secrets that led to the separation between the two sisters.
If you’re looking for a summer read set in a stunning location yet not looking for the usual rom-com, ‘Villa of Sun and Secrets’ is for you.
RENDEZ-VOUS IN CANNES
Set over two weeks of the glamorous Cannes Film Festival, ‘Rendez-Vous in Cannes’ follows Anna and Daisy, two very different women whose lives intersect during the festival.
Anna returns to the festival for the first time in 40 years to confront her heartbreaking past, and Daisy is a young journalist who attends the festival for the first time in search of a big scoop. As they cross paths, both have some life-changing decisions to make.
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
A list of the best books set in France would not be complete without Alexandre Dumas père’s classic ‘The Count of Monte Cristo.’
Set in both France and Italy in the 19th century (when Napoleon was in exile), it follows Edmond Dantes, a young sailor who is about to marry the woman his loves. When three jealous men decide to ruin his life, he is falsely accused of treason and imprisoned on an island near Marseille.
After years in jail, Dantes finally has a chance to escape and revenge on those who betrayed him whilst also helping those who stuck by him, which he does under his new persona – the Count of Monte Cristo.
BEST BOOKS SET IN OTHER PARTS OF FRANCE
Following Vianne and Isabelle, two very different sisters who are trying to survive WWII, ‘The Nightingale’ is a best-seller that must be on your bucket list of best books set in France.
Vianne’s husband was sent to fight against the Germans while she was left behind, forced to face one challenge after the other while keeping her daughter safe and praying for her husband’s return. On the other hand, her rebellious younger sister Isabelle ends up joining the French Resistance, risking her life to save others.
It’s not often that you get such a fascinating glimpse into the lives of women in wartime, so if you’re looking for a historical fiction that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster, this is definitely it.
A FRENCH PIROUETTE
When three women cross paths in a quiet village in the region of Brittany, you know you’re in for a literary treat. ‘A French Pirouette’ is the story of Suzette – a ballerina whose career is coming to an end, Libby – a widow who wants to fulfill her husband’s dream of moving to France, and Brigitte – who is giving up her B&B because her husband wants to retire. As they form a friendship, they also have to make some tough decisions about their futures.
THE LITTLE FRENCH GUESTHOUSE
What can provide more escapism than a book set in a little guesthouse in the Loire Valley?
Emmy’s vacation doesn’t go as planned when her boyfriend runs off with the guesthouse owner’s wife. Feeling guilty, she decides to stay and help him. Soon, she’ll make new friends, meet a new man (or two), and start to wonder whether she wants to go back to her old life or start a new chapter in France.
ARIA’S TRAVELLING BOOK SHOP
Love and loss, a journey through France, van life, and lots of books – intrigued yet by ‘Aria’s Travelling Book Shop’?
Widowed Aria has sworn to never fall in love again. The only love she wants in her life is the one she reads about in romance novels.
After losing her husband, Aria became a nomad who travels around in a van and sells books. While traveling across France with her friends, she gets to read her late husband’s diary and meets a charming author named Jonathan – will she be able to let go and move on or will she keep her promise?
THE SECRET OF THE CHATEAU
Another brilliant novel on this list that intertwines two timelines and provides a perfect combo of history and mystery is ‘The Secret of the Chateau.’
Back in the late 1700s in the days of the French Revolution, the Comte and Comtesse de Verais – Pierre and Catherine Aubert – are forced to escape from Versailles to their chateau in the French Alps.
In the present, Lu, her husband, and their group of friends (all in their fifties) decide to buy a chateau in the French Alps. Intrigued by her new home, Lu starts to research its past and uncovers an intriguing story…
THE FRENCH ADVENTURE
After quitting her job and breaking up with her boyfriend, Anna decides to go on a new adventure – move to France for six months to help her parents with their new B&B in the Loire Valley while figuring out what she wants to do next with her life.
Soon, she falls in love with the French countryside and lifestyle, and it’s no surprise that a handsome man is also involved, though things don’t go as smoothly as you’d expect.
‘The French Adventure’ is a beautiful novel that will make you think about life. From new beginnings to family relationships to friendship to love, this book has it all.
A SPRINGTIME TO REMEMBER
‘A Springtime to Remember’ follows TV presenter Lexie, as she sets off to Versailles to produce a documentary about the palace and its gardens. She also wants to seize the opportunity and uncover a family secret.
Her grandmother had spent a year working at the palace many years ago but was always reluctant to talk about her experience there. Now, Lexie can finally figure out what really happened in her grandmother’s past, and with her charming interpreter helping her, there’s also plenty of romance in the story.
THE VINEYARDS OF CHAMPAGNE
Another one of the best fiction books set in France is ‘The Vineyards of Champagne.’
Rosalyn is sent by her job to visit the Champagne region in France. A package of letters leads her to join a woman she had met on the plane and uncover the intriguing story of Champagne’s brave citizens during WWII, who formed an underground city of caves underneath the region’s vineyards in order to survive.
THE LOST VINTAGE
Moving back and forth between the past and the present, ‘The Lost Vintage’ is an amazing historical novel set in Burgundy, France.
Kate goes back to her family’s vineyard to study for the Master of Wine examination she has failed twice. While there, she discovers a secret cellar that leads her to a relative she didn’t know existed, as well as to secrets her family has been keeping since WWII that will change her life.
THE LOST CASTLE
Three women. Three timelines. One castle that ties them all together. If you’re already intrigued, grab yourself a copy of ‘The Lost Castle.’
In this fantastic novel set in the Loire Valley, you’ll meet Aveline – an upper-class woman who is trying to survive during the French Revolution, Vi – a resistance member who is trying to escape the Germans during WWII, Ellie – who wants to uncover a secret from her grandmother’s past, and the castle that is linking them together.
With history, mystery, a bit of romance, and a French countryside setting, this book is a total winner (and definitely one of the best novels that take place in France).
THE HOUSE AT ZARONZA
It’s not often that you find a novel set on the French island of Corsica, so ‘The House at Zaronza’ is a unique item on this reading list.
In this book, we follow Rachel, who is visiting the village of Zaronza in search of information about her Corsican grandmother. A parcel of letters and a diary lead her to uncover a fascinating story of a woman who lived on the island before and during the devastating WWI.
THE BAKER’S SECRET
Set in a small village in Normandy during WWII, ‘The Baker’s Secret’ follows Emma, a 22-year-old baker who is forced to bake bread for a German officer every day. Feeling that her duty is to help the people in her village, she manages to make two extra loaves every day from flour the Germans provide her and shares them with those who are starving.
Soon, she builds a bartering system that gives the villagers some hope and enables the local resistance to thrive.
HER MOTHER’S SECRET
‘Her Mother’s Secret’ is an intriguing tale that will transport you to the island of Belle Île in southern Brittany.
Told from several different points of view, it narrates the story of Colette, who has been estranged from her mother for years and moved away from France to Cornwall. When she’s notified that her mother is sick, she decides to go back to her childhood home. Now is Colette’s chance to confront her past and uncover her mother’s secret.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Another one of Alexandre Dumas père’s classics that deserves a spot on this list is ‘The Three Musketeers.’
Set in 17th-century France, it follows the adventures of d’Artagnan, a young man who leaves his poor family to join the Musketeers of the Guard, and the three Musketeers he meets at the beginning of his journey – Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.
Do you know other books about France that should be on this post? Tell me in the comments!
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