There are countless books set against the beautiful backdrop of The City of Light. And, what better setting for romance, love, and adventure than Paris!
From the romance of a horse drawn carriage ride through the city, to a romantic picnic beneath the Eiffel Tower; Paris is a city that simply breathes love, life, and discovery. Ahead of another two-week stint in Paris later this year, I’ve compiled my top ten reads set in this uniquely breathtaking city.
After backpacking her way around Europe journalist Sarah Turnbull is ready to embark on one last adventure before heading home to Sydney. A chance meeting with a charming Frenchman in Bucharest changes her travel plans forever. Acting on impulse, she agrees to visit Fredric in Paris for a week. Put a very French Frenchman together with a strong-willed Australian girl and the result is some spectacular – and often hilarious – cultural clashes. Language is a minefield of misunderstanding and the simple act of buying a baguette is fraught with social danger. But as she navigates the highs and lows of this strange new world, from the sophisticated cafes and haute couture fashion houses to the picture postcard French countryside, little by little Sarah falls under its spell: passionate, mysterious, infuriating, and charged with that French specialty – seduction. And it becomes her home.
Scent of Triumph
Scent of Triumph is the story of Danielle Bretancourt, a talented young French perfumer with a flair for fashion and a natural olfactory gift. In the language of perfumery, she is a Nose, with the rare ability to recognize thousands of essences by memory. The story opens on the day England declares war on Germany, and Danielle and her family are caught in the midst of a raging disaster sweeping across Europe.
Her life takes a tragic turn when Nazis murder her husband and their only son is stranded behind enemy lines. She spies for the French resistance, determined to find him, but is forced to flee Europe with fragments of her family. Destitute, she mines her talents to create a magnificent perfume that captures the hearts of Hollywood’s top stars, then gambles again to win wealth and success as a couturier. Her intelligence and flair attracts the adoration of Jonathan Newell-Grey, of England’s top shipping conglomerate, and Cameron Murphy, Hollywood’s most charismatic star.
Danielle charts her course through devastating wartime losses and revenge; lustful lovers and loveless marriages; and valiant struggles to reunite her family. Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, here is one woman’s story of courage, spirit, and resilience.
Hidden in Paris
Three women running away from their lives become unlikely friends in a beautiful house in the heart of Paris.
Lost in France, a country she mistrusts, among French people she hardly understands, Annie has trouble venturing away from home since the death of her husband. And since home happens to be a small jewel of a house nestled in the heart of Paris, why would she ever want to? But when bankruptcy threatens her beloved house, her one anchor in life, Annie has no choice but to find renters, and quick.
Leave it to someone socially phobic to phrase a want ad in all the wrong ways. With shimmering promises of ‘Starting over in Paris’ –– a concept she has no intention of applying to her own life––Annie attracts tenants with the kind of baggage that doesn’t fit in suitcases. A long-legged, cool-headed ex model (everything Annie is not) on the run from her abusive husband, a frail young woman harboring a possible death wish, a mysterious French artist, and an infuriating blue-blooded French man soon threaten Annie’s way of life in ways she never anticipated.
But when Annie finds herself reluctantly yet actively engaged in the rescue of her tenants, she discovers that she might just save herself in the process.
The Last Time I Saw Paris
A stunning debut novel of a young American woman who becomes a spy in Paris during World War II.
May 1940. Fleeing a glamorous Manhattan life built on lies, Claire Harris arrives in Paris with a romantic vision of starting anew. But she didn’t anticipate the sight of Nazi soldiers marching under the Arc de Triomphe. Her plans smashed by the German occupation, the once- privileged socialite’s only option is to take a job in a flower shop under the tutelage of a sophisticated Parisian florist.
In exchange for false identity papers, Claire agrees to aid the French Resistance. Despite the ever-present danger, she comes to love the enduring beauty of the City of Light, exploring it in the company of Thomas Grey, a mysterious Englishman working with the Resistance. Claire’s bravery and intelligence make her a valuable operative, and slowly her values shift as she witnesses the courageous spirit of the Parisians.
But deception and betrayal force her to flee once again-this time to fight for the man she loves and what she knows is right-praying she has the heart and determination to survive long enough to one day see Paris again.
Tatiana de Rosnay
Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old Jewish girl, is arrested by the French police in the middle of the night, along with her mother and father. Desperate to protect her younger brother, she locks him in a cupboard and promises to come back for him as soon as she can.
Paris, May 2002: Julia Jarmond, an American journalist, is asked to write about the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv’—the infamous day in 1942 when French police rounded up thousands of Jewish men, women and children, in order to send them to concentration camps.
Sarah’s Key is the poignant story of two families, forever linked and haunted by one of the darkest days in France’s past. In this emotionally intense, page-turning novel, Tatiana de Rosnay reveals the guilt brought on by long-buried secrets and the damage that the truth can inflict when they finally come unravelled.
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris
As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris.
It’s a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher,Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime – to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.
With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate – and herself – than she ever dreamed.
Paris is Love
In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about: she sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. Paris in Love: A Memoir chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
With no classes to teach, no committee meetings to attend, no lawn to mow or cars to park, Eloisa revels in the ordinary pleasures of life—discovering corner museums that tourists overlook, chronicling Frenchwomen’s sartorial triumphs, walking from one end of Paris to another. She copes with her Italian husband’s notions of quality time; her two hilarious children, ages eleven and fifteen, as they navigate schools—not to mention puberty—in a foreign language; and her mother-in-law Marina’s raised eyebrow in the kitchen (even as Marina overfeeds Milo, the family dog).
Paris in Love invites the reader into the life of a most enchanting family, framed by la ville de l’amour.
Karen A. Chase
If Karen A. Chase absolutely had to turn forty, she decided she could do it gracefully in Paris… for nearly forty days. Released after the e-book, this stunning paperback version contains over 100 photographs, plus quotes and thoughts not found in the streamlined e-book version. For readers who begged for more images, and for armchair travelers who prefer to hold Paris in their hands, comes this visually elegant photo journal and travel essay book.
What began as a blog to communicate with friends and family, became a travel journal filled with over a months’ worth of humorous and insightful glimpses into her Paris adventures, each of which could be read in about forty seconds. Journal entries are interspersed with Chase’s own inspiring photography. Additional, longer stories richly fill in details allowing readers to reflect upon her experiences with food, travel, photography, Parisians, writing, and love in the City of Lights.
The Paris Wife
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures the love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.
A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
Paris Through The Looking Glass
To Ellen 1960’s Paris with its magnificent avenues, palatial museums and constant song, “La Vie en Rose”, a dream of culture, elegance in language, clothes and food, a place where she can meet interesting people, not just from France but from many other countries, who will help her in her quest to find a wonderland where she can at last find true inspiration.
She does make many friends and sees a part of the city she would never have seen as a mere tourist. Her romantic dream appears on the verge of coming true when, unexpectedly, the dark side of the city intervenes.
There is more to Paris than its glittering exterior and she witnesses not just kindness and a sincere desire to help but also something of its underlying menace where, in the struggle to succeed women can be tricked into becoming, at best little more than pawns in a chess game, at worst victims of a flourishing white slave trade.