Paris

Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, 2014
This 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner follows a French girl and a young German soldier during World War II, transporting readers on an emotional journey through occupied France, from the streets of Paris to the coastal village of Saint-Malo.

The Paris Wife, Paula McLain, 2011
This bestseller offers a fictionalized portrait of the passionate and tumultuous marriage between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, and their life together in 1920s Paris.

City of Darkness, City of Light, Marge Piercy, 1997
The story reveals three women and their prominent roles in the tumultuous, bloody French Revolution alongside their more famous male counterparts. 

Perfume, Patrick Süskind, 1989
A gripping, beautifully written mystery about an orphan with an incredible nose for scents set in medieval Paris.

Suite Française, Irene Nemirovsky, 1941-42
Extraordinary lost work of fiction about the German occupation of France from the perspective of a Jewish novelist embedded in a real story as gripping and complex as the invented one.

The House in Paris, Elizabeth Bowen, 1935
A lesser-known but brilliant and influential jewel box of a novel that begins with two children meeting in the parlor of a narrow, teeny Parisian townhouse – and the slow revelation of the secrets it harbors.

Tropic of Cancer, Henry miller
Censored in the U.S. for many years, the novel tells of a young writer and his group during the Great Depression in Paris.

The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, 2003
The monster bestseller marries the gusto of an international murder mystery with a collection of fascinating esoterica culled from 2,000 years of Western history.

Le Divorce/Le Marriage, Diane Johnson, 1998/2000
Twin novels set in contemporary Paris offer an astute social portrait of the city.

The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas, 1845
This epic tale of love and retribution follows the wrongfully imprisoned Edmond as he attempts to escape and exact revenge on those who locked him up.

Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand, 1897
Self-conscious because of his enormous nose, endearing Cryano hides his face from the woman he loves, choosing instead to write her love letters pretending to be someone else.

Nonfiction

Hungry For Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 102 Best Restaurants, Alexander Lobrano, 2008
A thoroughly delightful guide to eating in the gastronomic capital.

Transforming Paris: The Life and Labors of Baron Haussmann, David P. Jordan, 1995
Few men have had such an enormous impact on an entire city’s landscape as the 19th century architect and urban planner, Baron Haussmann. This is an academic but very readable biography.

Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik, 2001
The New Yorker writer, who lived in Paris for several years, muses on the city.

Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology, Adam Gopnick, 2004
A collection of writings from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine to M.F.K. Fisher and Diana Vreeland.

Women of the Left Bank, Shari Benstock, 1987
The interesting account profiles female artists living in Paris during the first decades of the 20th century.

A Corner in the Marais: Memoir of a Paris Neighborhood, Alex Karmel, 2002
The history of the charming walk-up he and his French wife bought in Paris’s Marais district in 1982.

Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris, A.J. Leibling, 1986
A thoroughly delightful account of a gourmet’s progress in pre-war Paris.

Quiet Days in Clichy, Henry Miller, 1956
The celebration of love, art, and the Bohemian life at a time when the world was simpler and slower, and the sexual pioneer Miller was an obscure, penniless young writer in Paris.

Travelers’ Tales: Paris, James O’Reilly, 2002
The book captures the city’s romance through stories that entertain, inform, and touch the heart.

My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine, Kate Betts, 2015
This memoir by a former Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor traces the author’s coming-of-age as a young fashion journalist in 1980s Paris.

The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris, Edmund White, 2001
Witty and thoughtful musings on Paris by a writer who lived in the city for many years.

Fragile Glory: A Portrait of France and the French, Richard Bernstein, 1989
An incisive survey of contemporary France.

I’ll Always Have Paris: A Memoir, Art Buchwald, 1980
Buchwald sums up the joie de vivre of Paris during the fifties.

A Traveller’s History of Paris, Robert Cole, 1997
An excellent all-purpose history of the city.

Is Paris Burning?, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, 2000
A gripping history of Paris during World War II.

Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation, Noel Riley Fitch, 1983
Fascinating account of literary life in Paris during the twenties and thirties.

Paris: The Collected Traveler, Barrie Kerper, 2000
Good all-purpose read.

French or Foe? Getting the Most out of Visiting, Living and Working in Paris, Polly Platt, 2003
Platt, an American in Paris, shares her knowledge of the intricacies of French etiquette and social life.

Love and Louis XIV, Antonia Fraser, 2006
The best-selling British historian turns her keen eye and narrative gifts to examining the influence of the women in the Sun King’s life. Wonderful, engaging history.

My Life in France, Julia Child, 2006
A delightful memoir of the famous television chef about her first paces in the cuisine in Paris. A foodie must-read.

Classics

A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway, 1964
Hemingway’s love letter to the city.

Les Misérables, Victor Hugo, 1862
Familiar to most thanks to the popular musical, Hugo’s (hefty) novel about class struggle in Paris is set with the backdrop of the French revolution.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo, 1831
Another Hugo classic, this novel is a fascinating look at the fabled church and life in 15th-century Paris.

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, 1854
The Dickens classic pans the period from the outbreak of the American Revolution to the storming of the Bastille. 

Paris in the Twentieth Century, Jules Verne, 1994
Written in the late 19th century, Verne’s famous “lost novel,” which tells a futuristic tale of Paris in the 1960s Paris, was not rediscovered and published until 1994.

In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust, 1913
Proust’s semi-autobiographical novel, set in seven volumes, offers wonderful descriptions of 19th-century Paris, especially its high-society circles.

The Ambassadors, Henry James, 1903
The wonderfully named Louis Lambert Strether is another one of James’ Americans, who finds himself utterly seduced and charmed by Europe, in this case, Paris.

For Children

Madeline series, Ludwig Bemelmans, 1984
These charmingly illustrated books are a great way to get children excited about going to Paris.

This is Paris, Miroslav Sasek, 1959
This charming illustrated tour of the city was reissued a few years ago, and it’s a wonderful introduction to the city, its residents and monuments for young readers.

Nicholas, Rene Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempé, 1959
A series of illustrated chapter books about the misadventures of a French school boy that will make you and your children laugh out loud.

Chasing Degas, Eva Montanari, 2009
This is the story of a young ballerina who mistakenly swaps satchels with painter Edgar Degas, leading to an imaginative and colorful introduction to the work of the French Impressionists.

Paris in the Spring with Picasso, Joan Yolleck, 2010
Your child will feel as though they were invited to one of Gertrude Stein’s inspiring get-togethers with descriptions of her avant-garde circle of friends.

Babar series, Jean de Brunhoff and Laurent de Brunhoff, 1930s-present
Follow the king of elephants as he discovers his world of Paris and beyond. Your child is guaranteed to love them as much as you did.

Eloise in Paris, Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight, 1999
Our favorite mischievous young New Yorker visits the city of light with Nanny and Skipperdee, wreaking havoc along the way.

Films

Amélie, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001
Elation: that’s what you’ll feel after watching Amelie, the visually inventive French romance from Delicatessen director Jeunet starring.

An American in Paris, Vicente Minnelli, 1951
Yankee painter Gene Kelly struggles – and dances – his way through Paris and his romantic complications with Leslie Caron.

Before Sunset, Richard Linklater, 2004
A continuation of Before Sunrise, this Oscar-nominated romance film, tells the encounter of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) nine years after they met in Vienna on a train. Now the plot takes place in Paris. 

Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard, 1960
Godard’s first feature film casts Jean-Paul Belmondo as a thug who idolizes Humphrey Bogart, a parallel to the French New Wave revering and morphing American film noir. American waif in Paris Jean Seberg protects then betrays Belmondo, who has one of the most famous, and often copied, death scenes in film history.

Camille Claudel, Bruno Nuytten, 1988
Isabelle Adjani and Gérard Dépardieu star as the artist Auguste Rodin and his muse and mistress. Their fantastic performances earned them nominations for Oscars and won them five Césars.

Charade, Stanley Donen, 1963
The delicious, twisty, stylish Paris-set mystery partners widowed Audrey Hepburn with American Cary Grant in a race to retrieve a clue to where her late husband stashed his cash, before the villains do.

The Da Vinci Code, Ron Howard, 2006
Amelie’s gamine Audrey Tatou joins a tuft-haired Tom Hanks in the blockbuster, thoughy overwrought, adaptation of the bestselling religious mystery that opens with a murder in the Louvre Museum.

Gigi, Vincente Minnelli, 1958
This classic won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, when it was released in 1958. Not only do you get Maurice Chevalier singing “I Remember It Well,” but Leslie Caron and the scenes of Paris are utterly charming.

Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen, 2011
Struggling writer Owen Wilson visits Paris with his fiancé, where he explores the city during the day and, in the evening, travels back in time to the 1920s, where he rubs elbows with the likes of Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and more. The comedic film won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. 

Les Misérables, Tom Hooper, 2012
This Oscar-winning film (based on Victor Hugo’s hefty novel) tells of class struggles and romance in Paris during the French revolution. The cast stars Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne and more. 

Films for Children

A Little Romance, George Roy Hill, 1979
This delightful film, starring a young Diane Lane and the late Laurence Olivier, proves that Paris isn’t just for adult love. Two thirteen-year-olds fall for each other and their dapper, older advisor aids them in their little romance.

The Aristo Cats, Disney, 1970
One of Disney’s most charming animated films ever. Zsa Zsa Gabor is the voice of Duchess. There are scenes of Paris, tunes from Carmen and swinging Jazz as well as humor that makes it fun for the tiny set and their parents.

Le Ballon Rouge, Albert Lamorisse, 1956
A poetic fantasy without dialog pairs a red balloon and a young boy who wander together through the Paris streets in a classic picaresque.

Madeline, Daisy von Scherler Mayer, 1998
The video series of the Madeline books features lots of adventures about the girls in one straight line. Many of the titles are set in Paris, but mostly available only on VHS.

Ratatouille, Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava, 2007
A heartwarming animated film about an ambitious Parisian rat and his culinary adventures with a down-on-his-luck sous-chef.

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