Best Books Set in France

by ally redmond
compilation of book covers

Transport yourself with every turn of a page. It is no surprise that France offers a fascinating backdrop for great literature, with some of the world’s most renowned authors choosing not only to write in the country but also set their stories there.

Contemporary authors have also jumped on this bandwagon, weaving parts of France’s rich history, culture, gastronomy and general way of life into enlightening and entertaining tales. Escape your reality with harrowing portraits of Occupied France or the glitz of the Belle Époque era…

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From murder to undercover spies to time travel, read on for our selection of the best books set in France.

The Winemaker’s Wife 

by Kristin Harmel

couple walking away on book cover

A thrilling story where the past and the present collide, The Winemaker’s Wife is uniquely set between the Champagne region in the 1940s and New York in 2019. At the time of the German invasion, newlyweds Inès and Michel have taken over an old champagne house called  Maison Chauveau. Ammunitions hidden in wine barrels and a series of thrilling risks make this book an undeniable page-turner!

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The Second-Worst Restaurant in France: A Paul Stuart Novel 

by Alexander McCall Smith

red and blue book cover

Alexander McCall Smith returns with his second novel featuring the Scottish cookbook writer, Paul Stuart. Lacking inspiration for his new book, Paul jumps at the chance to stay with his cousin, Mary, in the French countryside. He soon befriends the owners of the so-called “second-worst restaurant in France” and gets roped into helping out at the disaster-prone eatery. Will Paul make it out of the kitchen alive and get a good idea for his next title?

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Vintage 1954 

by Antoine-Laurain

wine bottle on book cover

When Hubert Larnaudie invites three friends over to his Parisian flat to share a bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, he accidentally uncorks a gateway to the past… Time-traveling back to 1950s Paris — the golden age of Édith Piaf and An American In Paris — the friendly quartet encounters the thrills of the era. But time is running out, and they have to find a way back to 2017…

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The Lost Girls of Paris 

by Pam Jenoff

clock window on book cover

A New York Times bestseller by the acclaimed author of The Orphan’s Tale comes the remarkable story of women deployed as secret agents during the war in Occupied France. What unravels is a tale of friendship, courage and bravery as the women work to survive in the most difficult and unimaginable of circumstances. 

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Death in Provence 

by Serena Kent

book cover of provence cartoon

The first in a series of lighthearted novels set in Provence, France. What started as a fun retirement renovation project for a woman named Penelope turns into quite the adventure when she finds a man dead in her swimming pool. Bolstered with the knowledge from her former career in forensics, she begins working with local officials in her small town of Luberon to unravel this titillating murder mystery.

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French Exit

by Patrick deWitt

book cover will illustrated man and woman

The term “French exit” refers to leaving a party without saying goodbye to anyone. This sharply written novel (soon to be a film!) describes Frances’s swift exit from Manhattan to Paris. Bankrupt from an extravagant Upper East Side lifestyle, Frances, her son Malcom and their cat Frank – who Frances believes carries the soul of her deceased husband – head to the City of Light to reinvent themselves. One of the funniest novels set in France that you’ll ever read.

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The Dressmaker’s Gift 

by Fiona Valpy

book cover with eiffel tower

The year is 1940 in war-torn Paris, where three seamstresses are each fighting a personal battle in Nazi-occupied France. Mireille is fighting with the Resistance, Claire is engaged in an affair with a German officer and Vivienne cannot reveal a terrible secret to either of her friends. Two generations later, Claire’s granddaughter arrives in Paris looking for answers to her past. What she finds is more dark and unsettling than she ever could have anticipated… 

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Three Hours in Paris

by Cara Black

girl's back on book cover

Following her best-selling Aimée Leduc investigations and the Murder In… series comes a new title from Francophile and Parisian crime author Cara Black. A brilliant American markswoman, Kate Rees has been recruited by British intelligence to perform a fateful task: to assassinate Hitler in Paris. Failing her mission and now on the run for her life, she starts to suspect that she was set up from the start. A genuine page-turner that will thrill crime fans from start to finish.

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The Fleur de Sel Murders: Brittany Mystery Series

by Jean-Luc Bannalec

green book cover

The third installment of the Commissaire Dupin mystery series in Brittany. After being attacked in a salt mine while on vacation, Dupin goes on the hunt for his enemy… or are stranger forces at work here? The paperback version comes out late March — just enough time to catch up on the previous two books!

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Read next: Books About Modern French Culture

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