The best books set in modern day France that contain mouth-watering descriptions of food and wine

Who am I?

I went to Paris the first time when I was nineteen. I was sitting in a cheap restaurant when a man entered carrying a burlap sack filled with escargots, and put some on my plate (all very unsanitary) for me to taste. Delicious! I was in France in the 1970s when Robert Parker was discovering French wine. (We didn’t meet then, but did after my series was published many years later.)  Subsequent stays in Paris and other areas of France (Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy) afforded me a food and wine sensibility that over decades has permeated my lifestyle, my friendships—and my writing.

I wrote...

Champagne: The Farewell

By Janet Hubbard,

Book cover of Champagne: The Farewell

What is my book about?

NYPD detective Max Maguire flies to France to attend her friend Chloé Marceau’s wedding at a grand estate in Champagne. The fairy-tale evening dissolves into mayhem when Chloé’s aunt Léa is found murdered hours after the event. Max tries to insinuate herself into the investigation, but is thwarted by the handsome aristocratic examining magistrate, who had also been a guest at the wedding. But Max has her ways, and soon the family’s long-held secrets begin to spill out like marbles from an overturned dish, leading to one clue after another. Olivier finds himself fascinated by the lively American, and over the next days they join forces, and through the process find themselves bonding over food and wine, and friends and family.

The books I picked & why

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Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside

By Martin Walker,

Book cover of Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside

Why this book?

I bought the paperback in 2010, and as I return to it, see where I underlined phrases and lines, especially about food and wine. I was enamored of the bachelor Bruno, and the small village he was a part of. That title was followed by The Dark Vineyard the following year, and that was when I declared myself a fan of Martin’s entertaining series. Martin interlaces serious issues with humor, just enough romance, and marvelous descriptions of food and wine. He was kind enough to endorse my series, and also sent me a recipe for lamb shanks that I cook once a year. (Midway through the series Martin and his wife wrote a cookbook that won awards in Germany, but alas, has still not been translated into English.)

My Place At The Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris

By Alexander Lobrano,

Book cover of My Place At The Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris

Why this book?

This was a gift from a friend, and I absolutely love it. From the jacket copy: “It is the riveting portrait of a gay man struggling to overcome the reverberating shame and guilt of a long-buried childhood secret.” On the very first page he includes his ode to a sandwich, written when he was a child. It starts: "The BLT is the most perfect sandwich. The bacon brings it salt and the rich taste of pork. The tomato is sweet and juicy…”  Labrano eventually became a famous food critic, and his memoir is peppered with fabulous descriptions of food and wine. His description of a dinner in Val-les-Bains in the Ardèche region of France is downright inspiring. A great read!

The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement

By Lindsey Tramuta,

Book cover of The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement

Why this book?

The description above segues nicely into The New Paris by Lindsey Traumata, published in 2017. Traumata now has a second book published, and hosts a podcast, and is popular on social media. I have spent at least a month (and sometimes three) in Paris annually over the past six years and think of Traumata’s first book as a good friend. She writes wonderful profiles of people, and she keeps readers updated about bistros, winemakers, new cuisine. Her writing is elegant, and I read her descriptions as avidly as I do a novel, constantly making notes. So different from the usual guidebooks.

The Little Paris Bookshop

By Nina George,

Book cover of The Little Paris Bookshop

Why this book?

This is a novel that I read in one day, warming to the grieving protagonists who have found each other, and particularly struck by their first meal together—fish poached in cream and white wine, new potatoes roasted in garlic and rosemary, pears and cheese, and with a beautiful French wine to accompany it. In my mind romance can’t exist without meals prepared from scratch and wine to go with it. The other secret ingredient in the novel is books, and the combination of food and wine, a romance, and a love of books gives this book a permanent place in my library. In fact, I am rereading it.

The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food

By Adam Gopnik,

Book cover of The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food

Why this book?

Adam Gopnik’s book, The Table Comes First: Family, France and the Meaning of Food has it all: essays on the history of restaurants, followed by second on taste, then come the recipes (a stellar one on leg of lamb prepared with bacon and anchovies, saffron and cinnamon), and finally, in Chapter Ten, an essay on wine that is a far cry from the plethora of books on “how to taste.” It calls wine what it is, alcohol, and talks about why it makes us happy. I downloaded this book onto my Kindle a long time ago, and writing about it reminds me to purchase a hard copy of the book in order to place It on my shelf next to Gopnik’s book, Paris to the Moon, written way back in 1995, which is about the year he and his wife and infant son spent in Paris, with great stories about tasting French cuisine.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in France, Paris, and bookstores?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about France, Paris, and bookstores.

France Explore 584 books about France
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Bookstores Explore 14 books about bookstores

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Art of Eating, Apéritif, and French Pastry 101 if you like this list.