The Best Books For Francophiles

Want to live like the French? Get inspired with these 20 enticing tomes!

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'Creating the French Look' by Annie Sloan

From chateau chic to Parisian elegance, this design book from decorating expert Sloan will help you transform your home with 25 step-by-step projects that cover everything from distressing furniture to creating outdoor living spaces.

'French Women Don't Get Fat' by Mireille Guiliano

Luxury industry expert Guiliano (she was CEO of French champagne brand Veuve Clicquot and worked as a Louis Vuitton exec) caused a stir—and gave wine and pastry lovers hope— with her first book French Women Don't Get Fat, a guide to eating and living well.

'How to Eat a Small Country' by Amy Finley

Professionally trained cook Amy Finley won season three of The Next Food Network Star, but her charmed life took a turn when her French husband, Greg, who didn't want to be married to a celebrity, asked for a separation. To heal her family, Amy left her TV career behind and moved her brood to France, where they learned to reunite through the simple, everyday act of cooking and eating together. Buy it here.

'French Essence' by Vicki Archer

Archer wrote about falling in love with France in My French Life. In the follow up to that coffee table tome, she reveals her life in Provence in photos from inside and outside her home. Archer displays collections of books and teapots as well as curiosities right outside her door. This book will transport you—and it’s worth the trip. —Alexandra Gonzalez

'The House in France' by Gully Wells

Set in Provence, London and New York, Wells's witty memoir recalls a life lived at the center of everything, thanks to her mother, Dee Wells, and stepfather, the American jounralist A.J. Ayer. Throughout her story is La Migoua, the house in France (between Toulon and Marseilles) where her parents and their friends came together.

'French Lessons' by Ellen Sussman

Francophiles will fall for this inviting new novel about an eventful day in the life of three Americans—a heartbroken and pregnant young woman, a neglected ex-pat housewife and the middle-aged husband of a big film star—and their French tutors as they cross paths in Paris.

'Parisian Chic' by Ines de la Fressange

Does your personal style need a bit of that je ne sais quoi? Look no further than this delightfully illustrated guide to Parisian style and charm from Chanel model Fressange.

'Parisiennes' by Carole Bouquet and Madeleine Chapsal

"Real elegance is simply a true encounter with oneself," writes Carole Bouquet in one of the intimate essays accompanying the photographs in Parisiennes. Bouquet may be right; still, we can sidle up to elegance with these images of French women (driving, cooking, flirting) by Brassai, Doisneau and others. — Thelma Adams

'A Pig in Provence' by Georgeanne Brennan

"In Provence I learned that food has a meaning that extends far deeper than simply cooking or eating it," writes Brennan in her memoir of the remarkable life she built after moving to Provence in 1970. Brennan, who went on to become a James Beard Foundation Award-winning cookbook author, recounts her early days as a novice fromagére living the simple life in France.

'Paris and Her Remarkable Women' by Lorraine Liscio

Heloise, Coco Chanel, Simon de Beavoir—the stories of these amaizng women, and others, whose lives interesected with the history of Paris, are catalogued in this appealing ode to French heroines.

'What French Women Know' by Debra Olivier

Olivier challenges stereotypes about French women in the areas of sex, love, dating, marriage, motherhood, body image and more in this savvy guide which suggests that "it's not the shoes, the scarves, or the lipstick that gives French women their allure. It's this: French women don't give a damn."

'Paris, Baby' by Kirsten Lobe

Lobe’s new memoir explores the trials and rewards of being single and pregnant in the City of Lights. Infusing  the text with delightful French phrases, this story of a 39-year-old American ex-pat adjusting to Parisian customs, dressing chic with child and eating one too many croissants for two is wonderfully intimate, like an unedited traveler's diary.

'Stuff Parisians Like' by Olivier Magny

French sommelier and founder of the hilarious blog Stuff Parisians Like, schools Francophiles with this guide to loving Parisians, quirks and all. We're tickled by his take, for example, on a ubiquitous French accessory: "Parisians are not known to be warm. It will therefore come as no surprise that they wear scarves."

'The Most Beautiful Walk in the World' by John Baxter

In this sparkling memoir, author and professional literary walking tour guide (think the beloved cafes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald; the favorite gardens of Gertrude Stein) recalls his pedestrian excursians in Paris.

'Dreaming in French' by Megan McAndrew

In this memorable novel, the 15-year-old daughter of glamorous expats comes of age in 1970s Paris.

'Lunch in Paris' by Elizabeth Bard

It's the stuff of romantic comedies: Elizabeth Bard jets off to Paris for the weekend, meets a Frenchman over lunch and never goes home again. That pretty much sums up this charming, three-part love story between a woman and a man, a city and it's unforgettable food.

'Paris To Die For' by Maxine Kenneth

Based on a real letter written by Jackie Kennedy (on display at John F. Kennedy Library) that reveals her job offer from the newly formed CIA, this clever, campy novel follows the former Miss Bouvier on her first CIA assignment: a meeting with a high-ranking Russian in Paris that goes awry. But Jackie's got sass, a quick wit and "even her Chanel No. 5 atomizer as a weapon to stay alive in the shadowy world of international intrigue."

'The Paris Wife' by Paula McLain

In this evocative novel, McLain imagines the real life love affair between Paris resident Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

'Pastry Paris' by Susan Hochbaum

"I see pastries everywhere, and not just in the patisseries. The dome of Sacré-Coeur, gas caps on the sidewalks, topiary in the Place des Vosges. . ." writes Hochbaum in this whimsical, photodriven book (available for pre-order) of beautifully crafted pastries and the Parisian places and things they evoke.


'All Our Worldly Goods' by Iréne Nemirovsky

In 2006, Némirovsky's novel Suite Francaise was published to great acclaim decades after the author's death. Now, her novel All Our Worldly Goods, first published in France in 1947, is being released in America for the first time. Here, she tells the story of two powerful families in the small French town of Saint-Elme.



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For recipes for a Paris Dinner For Six, click here.

First Published June 21, 2011

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