The Best Paris Books

SDParis › Books
Updated: March 30, 2022
By Santorini Dave

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Books Set In and About Paris

A few of my favorite books about or set-in Paris.

Note: My favorite movies about Paris are Midnight in Paris and Before Sunset. Both are wonderful. The best general history about modern Europe is the fantastic Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt.

Best Books about Life in Paris

  1. My Life in France
    by Julia Child
    Magical memoir of Julia Child’s years in France. My favorite book about life in France as a foreigner.
  2. Paris to the Moon
    by Adam Gopnik
    Gopnik spent 5 years in Paris as a writer for the New Yorker. An inside look at life in France with his wife and young child. If you’re looking for the definitive Paris travel book then this is it.
  3. A Moveable Feast
    by Ernest Hemingway
    Paris in the 1920s through Hemingway’s eyes. A classic.
  4. The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris
    by Edmund White
    A walk through the streets of Paris in search of beauty, culture, and knowledge.
  5. Me Talk Pretty One Day
    by David Sedaris
    A humorous take on life in modern Paris.
  6. I’ll Always Have Paris
    by Art Buchwald
    Buchwald’s love letter to Paris based on his time there as a writer for the New York Herald Tribune.
  7. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank
    by Thad Carhart
    A wonderful little book about Paris, pianos, and a few very special people.
  8. Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide
    by Jessie Kanelos Weiner & Sarah Moroz
    Part travel guide, part inspiration. Wonderfully done.
  9. Finding Fontainebleau
    by Thad Carhart
    An American author looks back at his childhood in Fontainebleau and his family’s weekend trips to Paris.
  10. L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home
    by David Lebovitz
    Life in Paris through the eyes of a pastry chef (as he attempts to update his Paris apartment).

Best Books about Paris History and Culture

  1. Rimbaud: A Biography
    by Robb Graham
    The focus is the writer, not the city – but this book is so great it’s a must-read for Paris fans.
  2. Seven Ages of Paris
    by Alistair Horne
    The most readable, exciting, and informative history of Paris.
  3. The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris
    by David McCullough
    The story of the artists, writers, doctors, and adventurers that settled in Paris between 1830 and 1900. An exhilarating read.
  4. How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City
    by Joan DeJean
    A history of Paris development from chaotic alleyways to grand boulevards.
  5. Paris: The Novel
    by Edward Rutherfurd
    800 pages of easily digestible Paris history.
  6. The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs
    by Elaine Sciolino
    The former Paris Bureau Chief of the New York Times’ evocative exploration of the history and inhabitants of one street in Paris.
  7. The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed
    by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow
    A funny (but affectionate) and engaging look at modern French culture and quirks.
  8. The Discovery of France
    by Robb Graham
    A lively and informative read on the origins of France – its language and political geography. Quirky, but still my favorite history of the country.

Best Books about Paris Food

  1. The Sweet Life in Paris
    by David Lebovitz
    The story of an American chef in Paris, the ins and outs of French food, and over 50 recipes. See also his excellent first cookbook, My Paris Kitchen.
  2. Mastering the Art of French Cooking
    by Julia Child
    The widely-celebrated landmark cookbook, considered by many as the Bible of French cuisine.
  3. Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours
    by Dorie Greenspan
    Great for first-timers to French cuisine, with approachable recipes written in a down-to-earth style.
  4. Paris for Foodies: Your Ultimate Guide to Eating in Paris
    by Frederic Bibard
    The single best guide to restaurants and eating in Paris.
  5. Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris
    by A. J. Liebling
    The writer for the New Yorker recounts his eating adventures in Paris.

Best Paris Fiction

  1. A Place of Greater Safety
    by Hilary Mantel
    The best historical novel set in Paris, featuring the major players of the French Revolution. Simply fantastic.
  2. The Paris Wife
    by Paula McLain
    1920’s Paris through the eyes of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson. Historical fiction of the highest order.
  3. Le Divorce
    by Diane Johnson
    A light-hearted but enjoyable novel about two sisters re-acquainting in Paris.
  4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog
    by Muriel Barbery
    The highly-acclaimed story of a Paris apartment building and its denizens.
  5. The Ladies’ Paradise
    by Emile Zola
    This chronicle of the rise of the world’s first department store is based on the story of the Bon Marche is and now a well-loved TV series.
  6. Les Miserables
    by Victor Hugo
    This classic novel set in the French Revolution is a beast, but it’s worth the effort – especially for fans of the award-winning musical.
  7. Paris for One & Other Stories
    by Jojo Moyes
    Sweet and simple romantic short story collection; the two most prominent ones are set in Paris.

Best Childrens Books about Paris

  1. Madeline
    by Ludwig Bemelmans
    Brilliant. My favorite kids book ever.
  2. This is Paris
    by Miroslav Sasek
    Classic children’s book filled with charming illustrations of iconic scenery and explanations of Parisian history and culture.
  3. 13 Paintings Children Should Know
    by Angela Wenzel
    A good introduction to art and artists.
  4. Katie Meets The Impressionists
    by James Mayhew
    A great series on the master artists. Fun and informative.
  5. Adèle & Simon
    by Barbara McClintock
    A young brother and sister’s adventures through the streets and squares of Paris. Gorgeous pen-and-ink drawings.
  6. The Invention of Hugo Cabret
    by Brian Selznick
    Stunning graphic novel (500 pages) about an orphan who lives in a Paris train station and has a mystery to solve. In 2011 it was made into the equally wonderful movie, Hugo.
  7. Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles
    by Rupert Kingfisher
    “In the city of Paris, on the banks of the river, tucked away from the main street down a narrow, winding alley, there is a shop.” – and from there the magic untwirls.

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About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Author Bio. Santorini Dave was started in 2011 by a guy who loved Greece, travel, and great hotels. We're now a small team of writers and researchers on a mission to deliver the most helpful travel content on the internet. We specialize in Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, and Greece and recommend the best hotels, best neighborhoods, and best family hotels in top destinations around the world. We also make hotel maps and travel videos. I can be contacted at