The best books to transport you to France, with or without a glass of wine

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m American but I’ve been a Francophile for ages. I didn’t get a chance to visit France until well into adulthood. So much history lives in France and it’s been my joy to illuminate it for readers who tell me they feel transported. There is no higher compliment, in my mind. I’ve been writing novels for thirty years, set in the Rocky Mountains, America’s heartland, and the scenic villages of France. The Bennett Sisters Mysteries are now up 18 books in the series, featuring settings from Paris to Champagne to the Dordogne, with more in the works. I must go back to France to research, oui


I wrote...

Blackbird Fly

By Lise McClendon,

Book cover of Blackbird Fly

What is my book about?

When her husband suddenly dies, Merle Bennett chucks her over-scheduled lawyer life for a summer in the stone cottage she inherits in the Dordogne. Secrets from the post-war period and secrets of a newer kind disrupt what should be a fine French summer for Merle. With her teenage son in tow, a sexy roofer in her kitchen, and a nasty discovery in the pissoir, there is plenty to keep her mind off her endless to-do list. Writing in a "lyrical, often humorous style," Lise McClendon brings both the pain and rewards of rebirth and the rich French countryside to life.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Promise of Provence

Lise McClendon Why did I love this book?

A dream of many who live in cold climates is to live a second life (or first or third) in sunny France, and in particular Provence. Sands mainlines that dream in this book and especially the healing properties of sunshine and lavender. Her heroine recovers from a painful divorce and is reinvigorated, all the best qualities of a vacation, in reality or in reading. 

By Patricia Sands,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Promise of Provence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the evening of her twenty-second wedding anniversary, Katherine Price can't wait to celebrate. But instead of receiving an anniversary card from her husband, she finds a note asking for a divorce.

Fifty-five and suddenly alone, Katherine begins the daunting task of starting over. She has her friends, her aging mother, and her career to occupy her, but the future seems to hold little promise-until, after a winter of heartbreak, Katherine is persuaded to try a home exchange holiday in the South of France.

In Provence, bright fields of flowers bloom below medieval hilltop villages with winding cobblestone streets. Charmed…


Book cover of Toujours Provence

Lise McClendon Why did I love this book?

Peter Mayle is credited with launching the French fever dream for English speakers when he decamped to Provence and wrote about his life there. All of his Provence memoirs or novels, such as ‘Hotel Pastis’ are delicious treats, full of quirky British wit and his eye for the absurd. It was a special treat for me to hike through his Luberon haunts one year and drink wine made at the vineyard where The Good Year was filmed.

By Peter Mayle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Toujours Provence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER 

Taking up where his beloved A Year in Provence leaves off, Peter Mayle offers us another funny, beautifully (and deliciously) evocative book about life in Provence. With tales only one who lives there could know—of finding gold coins while digging in the garden, of indulging in sumptuous feasts at truck stops—and with characters introduced with great affection and wit—the gendarme fallen from grace, the summer visitors ever trying the patience of even the most genial Provençaux, the straightforward dog "Boy"—Toujours Provence is a heart-warming portrait of a place where, if you can't quite "get away from it all,"…


Book cover of The Secret Life of Writers

Lise McClendon Why did I love this book?

Browsing at Shakespeare and Company in Paris last fall I picked up this book in translation by Guillaume Musso, touted as the ‘French Suspense King.’ Set on an isolated island off the Côte d’Azur, this moody thriller is unpredictable and twisty, as all good mysteries should be. A reclusive author, his strange past, a relentless fan: what could go wrong?

By Guillaume Musso, Vineet Lal (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Life of Writers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'THE FRENCH SUSPENSE KING' New York Times

'It's no wonder that Musso is one of France's most loved, bestselling authors'
Harlan Coben

In 1999, after publishing three cult novels, celebrated author Nathan Fawles announces the end of his writing career and withdraws to Beaumont, a wild and beautiful island off the Mediterranean coast.

Autumn 2018. As Fawles' novels continue to captivate readers, Mathilde Monney, a young Swiss journalist, arrives on the island, determined to unlock the writer's secrets and secure his first interview in twenty years.

That same day, a woman's body is discovered on the beach and the island…


Book cover of Corkscrew

Lise McClendon Why did I love this book?

Since one of my characters is a French wine fraud detective I am always on the lookout for novels about wine. This book is all about the grape and the crazy world of the international wine industry. Comic, bawdy, and improbable, it will take you to vineyards in Europe and beyond as the hero learns to trust his nose, and you laugh out loud. 

By Peter Stafford-Bow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Corkscrew as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Shortlisted for The People's Book Prize 2018

"One of the funniest novels I've ever read. I honestly didn't want this book to end." The Wine Stalker

Felix Hart, a tragic orphan, is expelled from school, cast onto the British high street, and forced to make his way in the cut-throat world of wine retailing. Thanks to a positive mental attitude, he is soon forging a promising career, his sensual adventures taking him to the vineyards of Italy, South Africa, Bulgaria and Kent. His path to the summit is littered with obstacles, however. Petty office politics, psychotic managers and the British…


Book cover of The Paris Winter

Lise McClendon Why did I love this book?

I love weaving history into my mysteries so I was drawn to this dark tale of Paris in the Belle Époque. An English girl goes to Paris to study art but, desperately poor, throws her fate into the hands of some shady characters. The atmosphere and scene-setting of Paris during a terrible rainy winter are unforgettable. 

By Imogen Robertson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Paris Winter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Extra material includes a deleted scene and a Q&A with Imogen Robertson

Maud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academy to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris eats money. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling joys of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud takes a job as companion to young, beautiful Sylvie Morel. But Sylvie has a secret: an addiction to opium. As Maud is drawn into the Morels' world of elegant luxury, their secrets become…


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The Flower Queen: A 1970's Suspense Romance

By Kay Freeman,

Book cover of The Flower Queen: A 1970's Suspense Romance

Kay Freeman Author Of Hitman's Honey

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Retired art professor Tequila aficionado Weightlifter Owned by Standard Poodle Blues lover

Kay's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

It began with a dying husband, and it ended in a dynasty.

It took away her husband’s pain on his deathbed, kept her from losing the family farm, gave her the power to build a thriving business, but it’s illegal to grow in every state in the country in 1978.

It even brings her first love from high school back; the only problem is that he works for the FBI. Will their occupations implode their romance, or will the opposite happen?

A second chance at love, opposites attract, rags to riches heroine trope story.

The Flower Queen: A 1970's Suspense Romance

By Kay Freeman,

What is this book about?

It began with a dying husband and it ended in a dynasty.

It took away her husband’s pain on his deathbed, kept her from losing the family farm, gave her the power to build a thriving business, but it’s illegal to grow in every state in the country in 1978. It even brings her first love from high school back; the only problem he works for the FBI. Will their occupations implode their romance or will the opposite happen? A second chance at love, opposites attract , rags to riches heroine trope story.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in France, Paris, and Provence?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about France, Paris, and Provence.

France Explore 903 books about France
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Provence Explore 23 books about Provence