I’m addicted to Paris. There, I said it.
Around six year ago, my best friend and I decided to travel to Paris, this was my first ever real visit to the city (I’d previously stopped off for a ten minute break while en route to Spain) and the beginning of my obsession. Once I was home I missed Paris more than I can explain so I decided to pretend I was still there by living through books, soon I realised I’d read quite a few books set in Paris and I thought I’d share my favourites.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
I wasn’t sure about this book when I first picked it up. It ticked a box by being set in Paris but I’d seen a number of mixed reviews, it seemed some people loved it and some people hated it. The book is translated from French and follows Renée, a concierge for an elite Paris apartment block, who is seen to be fat, lazy and addicted to TV by the residents of the block. In reality Renée is well cultured and actually loves philosophy and art. Paloma is a resident, a twelve year old genius who plans to kill herself on her thirteenth birthday. The two form an unlikely friendship, they both hide their true selves from the world and this forms a strong bond between the pair.
When I first went in to read this, I was worried that the book would be pretentious and boring. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I fell in love with Paloma instantly and cared about her more than I’d cared about a fictional character in a long time. The story was charming and the bond between the two characters was heart-warming.
A Week in Paris – Rachel Hore
A romance novel set in Paris during the war? Sounds like everything I’ve ever needed from a book.
It was. Hore’s A Week in Paris was everything I look for in a book.
Fay was born on the day WWII started but she can’t remember the first five years of her life, she has a photograph of her dad but again she cannot recall him, she only knows what people have told her, that he died in an air raid. On a trip to Paris with her orchestra, Fay feels a bond with the city and a feeling she has been there before. She sets out on a quest to learn more about her mother’s past and her own childhood.
I honestly can’t recommend this book enough. The story was beautiful and seeing a young mother struggle to keep her child safe during WWII was endearing. Before I started the read I assumed it was your typical chic lit read but after a few chapters I realised it was much more than that. It was an enjoyable read and I would tell any of my friends to read it. I laughed and cried all the way through.
An Officer and a Spy – Robert Harris
This was the first book I read by Harris and instantly I knew I loved his writing. An Officer and a Spy follows Georges Picquart, an ambitious officer who has just been promoted to head of counterespionage. Picquart has been pivitol in the case against Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer, convicted of treason. At first Picquart is sure of Dreyfus’ guilt but as things progress he realises it may not be as black and white as he thought.
This is based on a true story and after reading I was surprised by how easy I found it to read. At times I cried and at times I rejoiced but in the end I came out feeling like I’d read about an important part of history and was better off for it.
Sleeping with Paris – Juliette Sobanet
Charlotte has everything she’s dreamed of. She’s a French teacher with her dream of moving to Paris to study at the Sorbonne University with the love of her life, merely days away. Then she finds her finacee’s secret online dating profile along with the messages he’s been sending to a beautiful redhead and her life is thrown into turmoil. Charlotte confronts the situation and decides to move to Paris alone where she can forget her past and embark on a new adventure.
Now I loved this story, this was the first book that really made me want to move to Paris. I loved seeing Paris through Charlotte’s eyes and you could tell that the author loved Paris just as much as I did, if not more. The story and the characters felt real from the beginning, I felt Charlotte’s struggles and I felt her love for the city and the new friends.
And can we just take a second to appreciate Luc… Perfect fictional man alert!
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris – Jenny Colgan
Now this is the biggest chic lit novel on the list. Anna works in a chocolate factory in England and she loves her job but after an accident at work she finds herself jobless and very upset. While recovering in hospital Anna meets Claire who helps to teach Anna French during their time in hospital. To help Anna recover, emotionally and physically, Claire offers to help Anna out, she puts her in touch with an old friend from Paris who offers Anna a job in their chocolate factory. Anna soon finds out that Parisian chocolate factories are a lot different than English and she realises that Paris might be everything she needs.
This story was beautifully written, I’d previously read a Colgan book before but struggled to get into it. This time however I was hooked within a few pages. The description of Paris was beautiful and after reading, all I wanted to do was run around those cobbled streets with an attractive Frenchman on my arm.