Almost French was the first book about an anglophone living in France that I ever read. It was many years ago that I read it, so I don’t remember the specifics, but occasionally there are a few situational things that pop up in life here and I am reminded of Sarah mentioning them from her own experiences. I now have many anglophone friends in France, and it’s funny to chat with one another, as we have so many of the same frustrations and questions about why they do things the way they do. We love it here, but it’s always nice to feel that connection to others sharing in your struggle!
Literary Paris: I happened upon this book a few months ago in a gift shop and found it to be such a fun angle on Paris. The book features beautiful photography from book shops, pop up brocantes, monuments to the greats, and even the homes of some of France’s literary geniuses. It’s a simple yet poignant book with many wonderful quotes.
My Paris Story : I was part of a wonderful women’s group in Paris that supported one another in our own individual endeavors, which has sadly now ended due to our fierce leader leaving France. A select few of us got together to share our stories of how we ended up in Paris and how life here has changed us, and we created this very special anthology. If you order directly from me, I will sign your book and include a Falling Off Bicycles bookmark.
The Greater Journey: American in Paris : I admit, this book has taken me a long time to read. I find anything David McCullough puts out is so rich and dense that it takes focus and time to get through his great works. My dad surprised me with this one one day, and I found it fascinating. So many Americans have spent time in Paris, and so many in different disciplines knew one another here. It’s still true today that we stick together to some extent and build our communities outside of the United States by starting with our compatriots. This is a great read for anyone who loves American history or the stories of foreigners’ lives in Paris once upon a time.
A Year in Provence: Peter Mayle really needs no introduction in the world of English books on France. A Year in Provence was his first book on life in Provence after moving with his wife from England. He shares amusing tales of Provençal life that make you, too, want to get your own French farm house and live the slow life under those sunny skies. All of his books are a joy to read, and will easily keep you transfixed long enough to finish them entirely in an afternoon by the pool.
La Gloire de Mon Père : For those students of French out there, I would suggest this or any Marcel Pagnol book, as they are fairly simple French, but give a lovely insight into French life in the South of France. I read several Pagnol books when I was young, and they were timely books, as they served as a commentary on not only life in Provence, but also family life. I related to the books of his that we read despite not having yet been to France. Reading them also felt like a badge of honor as I was continuing to read French books with increasingly good comprehension. Of course, his books are also available in English.
Notre Dame de Paris: A Celebration of the Cathedral : I have not yet read this book, but I wanted to include a book on Notre Dame in this list that chronicles its history and also includes some beautiful images of the cathedral that we all but lost last on April 15, 2019. I stood in disbelief watching the cathedral burn from a nearby bridge that evening. As a photographer, I am lucky to have hundreds of my own images of the monument, but don’t have many of the inside. I appreciate that this book has both history and beautiful photographs to commemorate this historic place.
Notre Dame : In continuing in the theme of Notre Dame, I am including this book by revered author Ken Follett. It’s a short read at only 80 pages, which includes his own account of how he found out about the fire and then touches on the history of cathedrals and the building of Notre Dame, itself. Profits and royalties from the sale of this book will go to the French Heritage Foundation.
“The wonderful cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the greatest achievements of European civilization, was on fire. The sight dazed and disturbed us profoundly. I was on the edge of tears. Something priceless was dying in front of our eyes. The feeling was bewildering, as if the earth was shaking.” —Ken Follett
Paris in Bloom : I have already written a whole post about my friend Georgianna’s lovely book, which you can read here. It’s a beautiful collection of images of Paris at its most beautiful time of year, Spring. (Mostly Spring, anyway.) There is a reason that songs have been written and books have been written about flowering Paris… it’s just that beautiful. And she’s now done New York in Bloom and London in Bloom to complete the collection.