From iconic city-shaping geography to warfare and revolution to cathedral fires, France boasts one of the richest histories that we know of. A country that dates all the way back to Prehistoric times, today France offers the world a unique culture shaped by the interesting and momentous events of its past.
A fascinating backdrop for great literature and storytelling, it is no surprise then that some of the most renowned historical and contemporary authors have chosen to write about it.
Transport yourself back in time with some of our favorite books on French history!
The Seine: The River that Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino
Natural geography and culture combine in this unique and inspiring book by The New York Times foreign correspondent and best-selling author Elaine Sciolino. Exploring the famous waterway from its beginnings in Burgundy through to its iconic place in the French capital, Sciolino dives into the history from various viewpoints – a barge woman, a houseboat dweller, a cinematographer – as well as its role in generations of art and cinema, from Renoir to La La Land.
The Liberation of Paris: How Eisenhower, de Gaulle, and von Choltitz Saved the City of Light by Jean Edward Smith
This dramatic historical account details the end of the Second World War and how Paris was saved by the Allied Forces. Prize-winning historian and author Jean Edward Smith cites three key members – Eisenhower, de Gaulle and von Choltitz – and how their actions ultimately saved the City of Light from destruction. Seventy-five years after this monumental event, this eye-opening read highlights the heavy price of duty and decision-making in warfare.
Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, E.Knight, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, and Allison Pataki
A momentous event told from the female perspective. Six award-winning authors came together to collaborate for this epic feminist novel about six different women whose paths cross during the French Revolution. From princesses to philosophers, it is a heart-racing read that exhibits the hopes and desires of a range of 18th-century women.
Notre-Dame de Paris: A Celebration of the Cathedral by Kathy Borrus
On April 15, 2019, a devastating fire nearly completely ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral. In Notre Dame de Paris, journalist and author Kathy Borrus (of Five Hundred Buildings of Paris) takes an in-depth look at this iconic Parisian monument, which was constructed all the way back in 1345. The book studies its representation in literature and film, as well as the many seminal moments in French and world history that the building has witnessed over nearly nine centuries.