The Best Books for Francophiles (pour vous et les enfants)

It’s no secret that I’m a total Francophile. Most of my favorite books are about France. I fell in love with France on my first trip to Paris at seventeen and I’ve been reading about it ever since. Everything sounds better in French. I love the style, butter, language and joie de vivre of the French.

You know those books that grab hold of you from the moment you start reading the first few pages? Who doesn’t love when that happens? If the book is French-inspired, I’m hooked! I’ve compiled a list of my favorite French reads…one for adults and also a list for les enfants. 

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Mastering the Art of French Eating: Ann Mah’s book will make you hungry for a crusty baguette and thirsty for a good rosé. Her book is about love, food and France. The life-lessons she learns in France truly give her food for thought and make memories you can taste.

My Life in France: See France through the eyes of the charming queen of cuisine, Julia Child. Her joie de vivre, charm, personality, voice, quick wit come through in this beautiful book.

Widow Clicquot: The story of the visionary young widow who built a champagne empire, showed the world how to live with style, and became one of the world’s first great businesswomen and one of the richest women of her time.

All you need to be Impossibly French: The Frenchwoman is sexy, sophisticated, flirtatious, and glamorous. This book is full of the secrets that make them that way…face creams, silk lingerie, and shopping-as-exercise. Powell reveals how French women stay impossibly thin and irresistibly sexy.

A Year in the Merde: This book made me laugh out loud several times. It’s the perfect entertainment for Francophiles.

Lunch in Paris: It was a pleasure reading Elizabeth’s adventures in Paris and I love her recipes.

Dinner at Mr. Jefferson’s: I have yet to read this book but it’s next on my list. Jefferson was one of my favorite Presidents…probably because he was a Francophile too. This book celebrates Thomas Jefferson and his two guests, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, and the meal that saved the republic. I can’t wait to read about a single great evening that achieved compromises that led to America’s great expansion.

Colette’s France: Colette was a true vagabond who came of age during the Belle Époque. She had all kinds of affairs and wrote about love in France.

How to be Parisian Wherever You Are? Love, Style, and Bad Habits: French women “don’t get fat,” are always elegant and effortlessly chic… How do they do it? We non-Parisian woman can learn something from Caroline de Maigret and her co-authors Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas.  I imagine these four women to be the French equivalent to the American Sex and the City girls…”without her girls gang, the Parisian is incomplete.”

Claude & Camille: Monet was prepared to make any sacrifice and have his family undergo discomfort for the sake of his art. For Monet, art came first and family second. Monet truly loved Camille but he had a difficult time balancing his two loves (art and family). Painting was how Monet dealt with reality and relationships.

Le Divorce: Two Californian sisters in Paris take on men, art and sex. Isabel helps her pregnant sister through a divorce as an American in Paris.

Marie Antoinette: The Journey: One of my very favorite books! The Journey is a beautiful portrait of Marie Antoinette’s life from early marriage to her reign as queen.

A Year in Provence: Peter Mayle’s dream come true…making a move into an old fashioned farmhouse in a small French town with his family.

The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Coco’s life and personal philosophies of charming theories about love, style and career.

Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris: Australian, Sarah Turnbull writes a travel  memoir as a romantic with her husband as she tries to fit into French culture and learns to adapt to the country’s customs.

Eight Days in Provence: A love story set in the countryside of Provence, Eight Days in Provence will make you dream in color…like your swimming in a Van Gogh painting.

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Pour les enfants

Chasing Degas: After a rehearsal, a young Parisian ballerina realizes that her satchel, supposedly containing her tutu for that evening’s recital, now holds tubes of paints. She deduces that Monsieur Degas must have mistaken her bag for his, and she rushes off to find him. Along the way, she meets a series of artists, including Monet, Caillebotte, Renoir, and Cassatt.

Bon Appetit! The delicious life of Julia Child: you will see the illustrations and little scribble notes are child-like and joyful. I’m so excited to be able to introduce Julia to my children through a bedtime story. It’s sure to inspire children to try new foods and find their own talent.

Le Petit Prince: This is the Beatles of children’s books…changing the world of readers forever. It’s about how a child sees the important things in life much more clearly than many adults do.

This is Paris: This book is so visually pleasing. It’s a wonderful book to introduce your children to the magic of Paris.

Eloise in Paris: Eloise’s mother wants them to come to Paris to get roses in their cheeks. I rawther love that Eloise is never bored…especially in Paris! Think about all the good things that come with being the age of six…Paris is her playground. My little girl LOVES Eloise!

Madeline: In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines…there’s not a more recognizable beginning to a book!! Madeline is my favorite children’s book. I used to dress as Madeline for Halloween. I love everything about Madeline from Miss Clavel to Pepito and the dog Genevieve, bien sur!

The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette: I wish I had a series like this when I was a young girl…what a fun fantasy! Louise Lambert’s best friend’s thirteenth birthday party is fast approaching, so of course the most important question on her mind is, “What am I going to wear?!” Slipping on an exquisite robin’s egg blue gown during another visit to the mysterious Traveling Fashionista Vintage Sale, Louise finds herself back in time once again, swept up in the glory of palace life, fancy parties, and enormous hair as a member of the court of France’s most infamous queen, Marie Antoinette.

Degas and the Little Dancer: I’ve been reading this book to my classroom for years and years! It’s the true story of a young dancer, Marie, who worked as a model for the artist Degas in order to pay for her dance classes.

Linnea in Monet’s Garden: I brought this book home from Giverny. The joy that Linnea discovers in Monet’s garden is touching. She has such enthusiasm for Monet’s Garden that will make your heart melt.

Charlotte in Paris: It’s 1892 and Charlotte lives next to Claude Monet in Giverny when an exciting invitation arrives. The celebrated impressionist Mary Cassatt is having an exhibition in Paris. Charlotte enjoys Paris to the fullest and even celebrates her birthday at the Eiffel Tower.

Van Gogh and the Sunflowers:  A young child brings Van Gogh a gift of beautiful sunflowers that become the subject of a magnificent painting.

Adele & Simon: My daughter loved this book when she was younger. She could relate to it since, like Adele, she has a little brother. Adele and Simon takes you to Paris…around the park, through the market, and all the way home.

Everybody Bonjours! Shop a fancy France-y store. Eat a pretty petit four. Discover! Sightsee! Explore! On this fun and friendly tour, everybody says “Bonjour!” Whether at a soccer stadium (“players scoring”), a crêpe stand (“batter pouring”), or strolling the Champs d’ Elysee (where folks “bonjour” in every store).

Julia, Child: This is a charming book! Some friends are like sisters. Julia and Simca are two young friends who agree that you can never use too much butter — and that it is best to be a child forever. The friends share a love of cooking and create recipes for growing young.

Happy reading fellow Francophiles! xx

 

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