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Nothing prepares you better for an upcoming trip to France than reading books set in Paris. You can walk the cobbled stone streets and sip café on terraces long before you’re there, admire art in the Louvre, or experience love. Get kissed. Walk up the stairs of Montmartre and roam the streets of the Marais.
The list of novels set in Paris is long, covering any genre and epoche. Get your favorite Paris travel book today and get ready for Paris! (or use those Paris books to refresh your memory!)
Interesting read: Paris hidden gems – 80+ secret tips and well-kept secrets around Paris
Our list of best books set in Paris!
Content of this post
As said, there are plenty of books to read before going to Paris, but I asked around avid readers and Paris lovers and got a solid list of favorite Paris novels (or books set in France!) in return.
However, I wanna go first 😀
Hunting and Gathering – Anna Gavalda
A book about friendship, life, love, and four very different Parisians: Camille, an anorexic artist, Philibert, shy, socially awkward, and upper class, Franck, a foul-mouthed, grumpy cook, and his lonely grandmother, Paulette.
The 4 misfits end up being flatmates and slowly but surely discovering their better selves and the good in life. The French title is “Ensemble, c’est tout” – “Together, that’s everything”, a way better match!
Have Mercy On Us All – Fred Vargas
Near Montparnasse, a modern town crier earns his living by announcing daily local news. It happens that lately, many are evolving around the plaque. But can it be? And are they related to the dead bodies found with flea bite marks? Did the plague return to Paris?
All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
submitted by Maggie Turansky from Books like this one
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel follows the life of a young blind girl, Marie-Laure, in Paris until she and her father are forced to flee the city. It also follows a young German boy, Werner, and his rise through the Hitler Youth and Nazi Party. Eventually, Marie-Laure’s and Werner’s paths collide and the beautiful language and outstanding prose are sure to have you engrossed. So if you’re looking for an excellent work of historical fiction to help you better understand what France was like during the Second World War, then make sure to pick up a copy of All The Light We Cannot See.
Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay
Submitted by Tori-Leigh
Sarah’s Key follows a young Jewish girl, Sarah Starzynski, who is arrested with her family during the Vel d’Hiv Roundup. Believing she will return home soon, Sarah locks her brother in a cupboard to keep him safe. Sarah, however, is separated from her family and sent to Auschwitz, all while keeping safe the key to the cupboard. 60 years later, Julia Jarmond, an American journalist, is writing about the Roundup. She learns of Sarah’s story and becomes obsessed with retracing her heartbreaking steps.
The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George
submitted by Vanilla Papers
Monsieur Perdu owns a floating bookstore on Paris’ Seine River and has a knack for recommending just the right novels to his troubled clientele. But his own personal life is just as troubled: the great love of his life left him with only a letter and he can’t bear to open it. When he finally cracks that envelope, he sets off on an adventure to the south of France filled with memorable characters and life wisdom. This novel from Nina George is great if you are looking for romance novels set in France!
The Lost Girls of Paris – Pam Jenoff
submitted by Mary Jo Manzanares from Traveling with MJ
This New York Times bestseller starts with an abandoned suitcase in New York and propels the reader to WWII-Paris. Inspired by true events, the story follows the lives of a network of female secret agents who served in Paris, as well as other destinations within Occupied Europe, working to help the resistance. The women served as radio operators and couriers during the war, and many of them did not survive. It’s a story of loyalty and betrayal, courage and bravery, patriotism and love of country, and the special place in history that these forgotten women deserve.
The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
submitted by Ladona Stork at Walking The Parks
The Paris Wife brings to life the explosion of the Jazz Age in Paris through the story of Hemingway’s first wife Hadley Richardson. This historical fiction novel captures the passionate romance between Hemingway and Hadley and the challenges the wild lifestyle placed on their love. Woven into their story are intriguing glimpses of other creatives of the period, such as F Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, as they craft their skills. After reading this novel, it will be hard to sit in a Paris café and not imagine a tormented Hemingway feverishly writing The Sun Also Rises.
Paris Letters – Janice MacLeod
submitted by Sanur Bali Guide
Almost burnt out, fed up with her job, Janice Macleod saves for 2 years, quits her job, sells up, and heads off to travel Europe. On her Paris stop, she meets her future husband, Christophe in a real-life whirlwind Paris romance. With dwindling funds, Janice returns to her two loves, writing and art. This is where Paris Letters are born. Through her adventures and explorations of Paris, she describes the Paris and people she discovers using words and pictures making her own postcards. An inspiring journey and real-life account of how to cast your fears aside and follow your heart and dreams.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
submitted by My Adventures Across The World
The book tells the story of Renée Michel, concierge in a luxury building in 7 Rue de Grenelle, one of the most elegant residential areas in Paris. Seemingly a very simple person, Renée is actually a very well (self)educated philosophy and literature lover; an avid reader who conceals her identity in an effort not to lose her job. The only person in the building that suspects Renée’s intelligence is Paloma Josse, a 12-year-old student who, much like the concierge, hides her real intelligence in order to avoid conflict at school.
The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
submitted by Lee from The Travel Scribes
When one of the Louvre’s leading curators is found dead with a range of cryptic clues and symbols strewn across and around his body, an international investigation is sparked. Led by the victim’s granddaughter and leading cryptographer, Sophie Neveu, along with prominent US symbology expert, Robert Langdon, the investigation sees a religious mystery start to unfold. Delving into a connection to a secret underground Catholic society, an obscure mathematical reference, and iconic works like Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, this book is a page-turning thriller that has you questioning what you know about Christianity.
Time Was Soft There – Jeremy Mercer
submitted by Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan
Published in the UK under the title “Books, Baguettes, and Bedbugs”, this is Jeremy Mercer’s memoir of the five months he spent living inside the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris in the year 2000. Run by an eccentric octogenarian named George Whitman, the iconic bookstore right next to Notre Dame had become a refuge for writers, misfits, and lost souls. This memoir offers a peek inside a corner of bohemian Paris that, remarkably, is still thriving today. It’s certainly a good read if you looking for books based in Paris!
Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins
submitted by Volumes and Voyages
Anna and the French Kiss follows a senior named Anna who is sent abroad to Paris for her final year of high school. Isn’t this a great beginning for romance novels set in Paris? However, unfortunately, she doesn’t know any French, so she doesn’t know how well she will do in France! While there, she meets a cute boy named Etienne St. Clair, but there is just one catch – he has a girlfriend, and almost everybody else has a crush on Etienne as well. Before long, both of them start becoming really close friends, and maybe even more.
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemmingway
submitted by Laura No Està
A Moveable Feast is one of the most well-known Hemingway’s books, but also one of the best novels set in Paris. It’s a memoir on his life in Paris as a young expat and ambitious writer. In this book, he gives us a glimpse of the life of the authors that formed the lost generation and we get to discover the struggles they faced. One of the nicest things about this book it’s that Hemingway is constantly naming places that still exist, so if you’re thinking of visiting Paris I strongly recommend you to read the book first and follow the steps of the author on your trip.
Henry and June – Anaïs Nin
submitted by Steph from vanilla is the new kink
Henry and June draw on the memoirs of Anaïs Nin, exploring her emerging eroticism after meeting writer Henry Miller and his wife June. The book explores the intense, complex, and sexually-charged love triangle that formed between them in the 1930s. Set against the backdrop of Nin’s birthplace of Paris, it is an unfiltered view of her creative and erotic awakening. If you are searching for romance books set in Paris, this one should be on your list!
Paris Metro Tales – Helen Constantine
submitted by The Platinum Line (Anne Fraser)
A collection of short stories based around stations on the Paris Metro stating at the Gare du Nord. Some are by famous writers like Zola or Simeon and some by writers unknown to English-speaking readers. Together they give a flavor of the different arrondissements. The book also includes photographs and a map.
Just One Day – Gayle Forman
submitted by Alexandra | The Adventure Classroom
“Just One Day” follows high school student Allyson on her graduation trip to Europe. In London, she meets Willem, a Dutch actor, and they spontaneously decide to spend one day together in Paris. In the city of love with a stranger, Allyson is taking more risks than ever before. But when an unexpected event occurs, Allyson spends the following months learning more about herself and what it means to be brave.
Not what you were looking for? Check the books below – they are all playing in Paris as well:
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