The best books set in France to inspire and excite the imagination

Who am I?

My love affair with France began years ago with a holiday to St Malo. Since then, it’s been hard to stay away. Luckily, my husband felt the same way and eventually, we decided to buy a country estate in the rural southwest. Today, I write about our wacky lives here, how we refurbished our home and came to live with so many animals. We’re immersed in a quirky farming community that lives in harmony with the seasons. Honestly? Nothing much has altered for the past thirty years. It’s magical. Oh, and when we have time, we’ll explore our locality. We still have so much here to discover.


I wrote...

Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 1

By Beth Haslam,

Book cover of Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 1

What is my book about?

Buying a country estate in France seemed such a simple idea. When Beth, her grumpy husband Jack, and their two fat dogs set off, little do they know that it will become an extraordinary adventure. Surviving near-death experiences, they drive thousands of kilometres viewing French estates steeped in history and crazy aristocrats. Will they find their dream home or return to Britain defeated? This is the first instalment in Beth’s hugely entertaining Fat Dogs series.

The books I picked & why

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Damson Skies and Dragonflies: A Journey through the Seasons in the French Countryside

By Lindy Viandier,

Book cover of Damson Skies and Dragonflies: A Journey through the Seasons in the French Countryside

Why this book?

A touch of French magic.

In this memoir, the reader is invited into the author’s enchanting world. She and her husband view a gracious old cottage. It’s tired, though possesses that special je ne sais quoi. Inexplicably drawn to its soul, they embark on a project to restore life and love into its walls and garden.

During this captivating journey, Lindy learns about her surroundings, the colourful characters who become their friends, the creatures that share their home, but mostly she learns about nature and the joys of living in harmony with the seasons. 

The author’s style is delightful. Her new experiences, feelings, and encounters are expressed with a gentle, poetic intimacy. She also delights with her culinary skills and shares heavenly recipes. For me, this was an intoxicating read.


Code Name Camille: A story of trust, love and betrayal

By Kathryn Gauci,

Book cover of Code Name Camille: A story of trust, love and betrayal

Why this book?

A novel set in Nazi-occupied France during World War 2? It promised to be gripping. It was.

I was quickly immersed in an oppressive environment where French citizens’ lives are strictly controlled. For many, it is a living nightmare. Failure to toe the line leads to often harrowing consequences.

This is the story of a courageous young woman who refuses to give in. She moves to Paris, where she joins the Resistance movement. Here, she is pushed to the limits of her resolve as she faces extreme danger.

Throughout, the author paints a superb picture of the period. Balanced by historical facts, the plot unfolds with vivid imagery. It is a compelling adventure with a catch that grabs the reader’s imagination. 


Faring to France on a Shoe

By Valerie Poore,

Book cover of Faring to France on a Shoe

Why this book?

We live close to the Canal du Midi and regularly enjoy blissful dog walks on the towpath. Spotting this memoir about faring to France immediately piqued my interest. 

The author’s colourful descriptions gently transported me to her watery world. Through Val’s narrative, I admired the scenery, both industrial and pastoral, and I could almost hear the wavelets lapping against the bows of her beloved barge, the Hennie H. 

Throughout Val and her partner’s trip, the reader is given fascinating history snippets. And, as with all great writers, there’s drama and fun, too. Val made me giggle, especially with her vignettes about their simple living arrangements aboard.  

This book contains both humour and depth, it is a celebration of this author’s excellent writing.


Grape Expectations: A Family's Vineyard Adventure in France

By Caro Feely,

Book cover of Grape Expectations: A Family's Vineyard Adventure in France

Why this book?

Enjoying wine is second nature here in France. But what does it take to produce a perfect vintage? This no-frills memoir gave me the answers. 

An Irish couple moves to the Dordogne. Realising their dream, they buy a vineyard in financial trouble only to find that they have taken on more than they realised. And it’s tough on them all. Caro takes the reader on a detailed journey, describing the challenges of renovating their dilapidated farmhouse whilst learning to become wine-makers. 

I was fascinated by the gritty realities and hard work needed to make their vineyard a going concern. I was also hugely impressed. I suspect that many others in a similar situation would have given up. Amazingly, they continue whilst bringing up their young daughters and integrating into their local community. I was engrossed throughout.


Labyrinth

By Kate Mosse,

Book cover of Labyrinth

Why this book?

Labyrinth is primarily set in Carcassone, with its ancient cité that looks like a fairyland castle. We live close, and since it is one of my favourite UNESCO sites, I had to read Kate Mosse’s highly acclaimed novel.

Opening with a present-day archaeological dig, the reader is introduced to the first of two protagonists – a young volunteer whose disturbing discovery uncovers an extraordinary connection to her past. The plot shifts to the Middle Ages and a girl in Carcassone who finds herself embroiled in a secret she must keep. The links between the two women are slowly revealed.

Deceit, conspiracy, evil, and love, this captivating thriller seamlessly switches between the ages as the mystery behind the labyrinth is exposed. I found it compulsive reading.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in France, vineyards, and Paris?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about France, vineyards, and Paris.

France Explore 544 books about France
Vineyards Explore 8 books about vineyards
Paris Explore 190 books about Paris

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Ticket to Freedom, A Good Year, and Judgment of Paris: Judgment of Paris if you like this list.