The best books about France

218 authors have picked their favorite books about France and why they recommend each book. Soon, you will be able to filter this list by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books.

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Book cover of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine

By Marion Meade,

Why this book?

This may not be the most scholarly book on this extraordinary woman; but it is by far the most readable on the only woman who married both a King of France and King of England, went on Crusade to Jerusalem, and civilized feudalism by sponsoring poets and minstrels and creating the idea of romantic love.
From the list:

The best books on the wine, food, and history of Perigord France

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

Grape Expectations: A Family's Vineyard Adventure in France

By Caro Feely,

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…

From the list:

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

Book cover of A Year in Provence

A Year in Provence

By Peter Mayle,

Why this book?

Okay, this is another Peter Mayle book, but there are only so many vineyard books that I can recall at the moment. And this is an excellent one! I think it’s the first ‘vineyard’ book that I ever read. Similar to Under the Tuscan Sun, it’s a true story about how Peter and his wife relocated to Provence France for an amazing year. And it’s an amazingly well-written story that transports you straight into French wine country. I particularly love his description of the ancient farmhouse they occupy during their year. This is a real ‘take you away’ tale.

From the list:

The best books about vineyards

Book cover of Fields of Glory: A Novel Fields of Glory

Fields of Glory: A Novel Fields of Glory

By Jean Rouaud,

Why this book?

This is the first book of a fictionalized family history, starting with the omniscient narrator’s maternal grandparents and paternal aunt, who are all born in the late 1880s: the World War I generation. The story takes place near Nantes, which until 1956 was part of Brittany, but then was administratively moved to a new department, the Loire Atlantic—though most people in Nantes and Brittany continue to believe the Nantois are Breton. As with many things French, the issue is far from settled.

Rouaud creates character through vignettes—and they’re wonderful: grandpa smoking; grandpa driving; grandma complaining about grandpa smoking and driving;…

From the list:

The best books about the magic of Brittany France

Book cover of Wind, Sand and Stars

Wind, Sand and Stars

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery,

Why this book?

Wind, Sand and Stars is one of the most beautiful and poetically-written memoirs of all time. The centerpiece of the book is a crash-landing made by Saint-Exupéry and his co-pilot in the Egyptian Sahara, in December 1935. Unsure of their precise location, and without means of radioing for help, the two men, seemingly without any hope of rescue, faced desperate fear-filled days in the desert, plus unimaginable thirst, hunger, and imminent death, before their almost miraculous deliverance: “All other pleasures seem trivial to those of us who have known the joy of a rescue in the Sahara.” Saint-Exupéry is the…

From the list:

The best books about Egypt and the Sahara before and during WWII

Book cover of A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

By Sonia Purnell,

Why this book?

The Germans called Virginia Hall “the Limping Lady,” as she required the use of a prosthetic leg (“Cuthbert”). They also considered her the most dangerous of all Allied spies – male or female. The second female SOE agent sent into France, Virginia set up an effective network that (amongst other things) was instrumental in helping British airmen, shot down over Europe, escape and return to England.  

But what I found the most astonishing when I read Virginia’s biography, was how she didn’t let anything stop her. Not her disability. Not the Nazis. Not the Pyrenees Mountains, which she hiked over…

From the list:

The best books about the real-life, kick-ass female agents of WW2

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