The 16 Best Books to Read Before you Go To Paris

Books to Read Before you Go to Paris | WORLD OF WANDERLUST
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Today I fly to Paris for the umpteenth time and suffice it to say that this is one city I will never tire of. Not only do I adore being in Paris, but I’m also so much of a Francophile that I will take every opportunity to speak about Paris; read about Paris; research Paris… the list is endless. I’ve compiled a list of the very best books you should read before visiting the city, both old and new. They’re in order of preference, so if you only have time for one or two, know that you can start with the first recommendation!

Books to Read Before you Go to Paris | WORLD OF WANDERLUST

1. Paris Dreaming by Katrina Lawrence

I picked up this book in the Perth airport recently and knew in an instant that it would be a bookshelf favourite of mine. Katrina, I am convinced, is my spirit person an approximate 20 years my senior and with even more trips to Paris under her belt than me (I’m sitting on somewhere around 8 by now). With her own personal anecdotes and a running commentary on Paris’ best eateries, boutiques, etc. to match, there really is no better book to read before your first visit to Paris or if you’re Parisian in another life like me… 😉

2. Paris Letters by Janice Macleod

This book traces the adventure of Janice, an American lady who sold all her things and packed her bags for Paris. I partly love this book because I wish I had have done this at some stage in life (26 is still not too late, right!?) and partly because it brings back so many fond memories from my own trips to Paris. If you love champagne, macarons, and postcard-pretty-Paris, you will love this book.

3. Sundays in Paris by Yasmin Zeinab

If you’re less of a hopeless romantic and more of a realist, pick up this newbie by Yasmin Zeinab. Sundays in Paris is jam-packed full of the best places to spend a Sunday in Paris: from coffee shops to concept stores and all of the beautiful brunch spots!

4. The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

My love for French pastries is about on par with my love for Paris, so it is no surprise that I have this book on my bookshelf. David Lebovitz is a chef and Parisian (originally from the States) who has carved a name for himself in the pastry capital. David knows all of the ins and outs to the pastry world – from where to truly find Paris’ best croissant, to which flavours you should choose by way of macaron a la Pierre Herme.

5. Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

I fond this book when I was researching similar books to “Paris Letters” because I loved it so much that I didn’t want the journey through Paris to end. The pro for this book is that it is full of recipes at the end of each chapter, so if you’re more of a foodie (the recipes are mostly savoury, just a heads up) then this book is for you.

6. The Only Street in Paris by Elaine Sciolino

I had never heard of Rue des Martyrs before reading this book, however immediately made it my priority to visit on my very next trip to the French capital. This book follows the journey of Elaine to Paris and her undying love for her neighbourhood street, which has since become a new favourite of mine (and soon will be one of yours, too, I’m sure!)

Delicious Days in Paris

7. Delicious Days in Paris by Jane Peach

If you enjoy walking around cities to earn your cards (ahem, story of my life…) then Delicious Days in Paris is a perfect travel companion for your time in Paris. This book is full of one day walking itineraries that will take you around the sweetest stores in Paris, through the most gorgeous parks, streets, and even stop at some local boutiques you may not have found otherwise.

Parisian chic city guide

8. Parisian Chic City Guide by Ines de la Fressange

Another great city guide that will fit in your handbag: Parisian Chic City Guide is about as chic as a city guide gets (note: I purchased this at renowned concept store Colette before they closed down. Très chic.)

9. Paris in Bloom by Georgianna Lane

If you’re not much of a reader and prefer to whimsically flick through the pages of a book, then you should already have Paris in Bloom on your coffee table. This book is an inspired walk through Paris in Spring (my favourite season to visit), with pinks and purples bursting to life in the pages.

10. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemmingway

An oldie but a goodie: if you haven’t already succumbed to the powers of a Hemmingway memoir, this book is the perfect place to start.

11. Paris Stories by Mavis Gallant

Another oldie but a classic, Paris Stories is a little heavier to read, but well worth it if you’re looking for a book with more depth and substance than the previously mentioned romantic novels and memoirs (yes, I’m a dreamer!)

12. Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard

As the follow up to her “Lunch in Paris” book, Elizabeth moves to Provence and shares her adventures there. Whilst not about Paris specifically, I feel I must include this book because I enjoyed it so much that it inspired me to visit Provence on this trip!


13. Paris: Through a Fashion Eye by Megan Hess

If you’re in the fashion industry or follow it, you’ll already know the work of the incredibly talented Megan Hess. Travellers to Paris can learn a lot about the city in this book, but for me I just love the beautiful illustrations that whimsically take me to Paris in the pages.

14. The Little Paris Book Shop by Nina George

If you prefer a novel, pick up this book by Nina George that is set in Paris and gives a great context to the city for your first or next visit.

15. Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah

I found this book quite funny and educational in a way that I could better understand the way French men and women act, how to win over a waiter, and a few key French phases along the way.

16. The Holiday Goddess by Jessica Adams

This is one of the first travel books I ever owned and picked up at a $10 discount book store. The book is a travel guide to some of my favourite cities: Paris, London, New York and Rome.


Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!




    puja mehta

    April 26, 2018

    Amazing post thanks for sharing.

  2. Brooke Saward

    April 23, 2018

    Thanks for the additions! My friend just told me about “Almost French” and I’m so tempted to go buy it today while I’m here!! Sounds magical 🙂



    April 23, 2018

    Great list!
    A couple more recommendations:
    Almost French by Sarah Turnbull, an Aussie writer with a very engaging style.
    The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter, another Australian writer with the sea of knowledge about Paris.



    April 17, 2018

    Great List! Excited to have discovered some new ones here.



    April 14, 2018

    These are great recommendations! I only wish I’d seen this blog post sooner… definitely will have to give them a read, as I’m sure I’ll end up in Paris again soon!


    Vikas Goyal

    April 12, 2018

    Hi, this is really fantastic blog with full of knowledgeable thoughts. Readers are always like to read full informational blogs, and this is one of them. You really done great job.


    Eleanor May

    April 12, 2018

    Thank you for sharing. I am heading the Paris in a few months so I will have to pick up some of these books!!


    Judy H

    April 11, 2018

    I have read many of these and am loving David Lebovitz. You might want to find a copy of A Writer’s Paris by Eric Maisel and wander the streets with that



    April 10, 2018

    I’m going to Paris on July!!!!!! Going to buy these



    April 9, 2018

    Aw! These books are so aesthetically pleasing.

    Thanks for sharing!!

    Sophie |

  11. Brooke Saward

    April 8, 2018

    I’ll have to check it out – haven’t heard of that one before!!



    April 7, 2018

    Definitely add a Paris Hangover to your list! Ridiculous and hilarious! A favourite and easy read of mine that always has me reaching for my laptop to book a flight.



    April 7, 2018

    I already have a few books ticked off, as an proven Escapeartist not so hard 😉
    Greetings from Lisbon. Let me know when you will be around this area some time soon.


    Ester Says

    April 6, 2018

    I don’t know why, but I have never felt like Paris is something I HAVE to seebefore I die. I mean I like the culture, food, art and the country as well, but Paris? No, not on my bucket list ‍♀️



    April 6, 2018

    You should read Julio Cortazar’s Rayuela


    html color

    April 5, 2018

    Thank you for sharing the list! I have not had a chance to visit Paris yet, hope someday I could.



    April 5, 2018

    So, so many books to read! I’d love to get my hands on a few of these before my next trip to Paris. I couldn’t agree more, you can never truly tire of Paris, it’s such an enchanting spot to explore xx



    April 5, 2018

    Love this list!!! I too am a MASSIVE Francophile and love every minute I spend in Paris. Even the crappier of days is made up for because I am there (Better to have a crappy day in Paris than a crappy day anywhere else). I’m currently reading a book (that I picked up on sale in Burnie of all places) about the literary haunts around Paris. Where Hemingway & co. found their inspirations throughout the city. Great read and I look forward to checking these spots out when I get back!

    Have fun!!




    April 5, 2018

    I am bookmarking this list! For a more literary approach I would highly recommend Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin. She discusses exploring the city on foot while relating to works of literature written in Paris.


    Hepcat Hannah

    April 5, 2018

    Ah, more books about Paris to add to my reading list. 🙂 I have read several of these & loved them! Both of Elizabeth Bard’s books, and then also Paris Letters. There are three books I’d add to this list though. 1) A Paris Year (also by Janice MacLeod), 2) Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L Scott (the author’s experience as a foreign exchange student living with a Parisian family makes this book very unique!), and 3) Don’t Be a Tourist in Paris by Vanessa Grall (this is a very eclectic guide to the less-explored parts of Paris!).



    April 5, 2018

    Definitely read “The Most Beautiful Walk in the World” by John Baxter. I read it before leaving on my first trip to Paris and I loved learning about some of the hidden history of the city.

  22. Brooke Saward

    April 5, 2018

    They are in order of preference so you’re off to a good start!



    April 4, 2018

    Ooooh, these all look lovely! I am especially eyeing the first two, and they may or may not be in my Amazon cart…


    Taste of France

    April 4, 2018

    Also “Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris,” by Paris native Clotilde Dusoulier of the French food blog Chocolate and Zucchini. You get a different perspective from a local than from an expat or traveler.
    And anything by Colette.
    BTW, yes, France is so much more than Paris! Glad you’re heading south. Provence is gorgeous. So is Languedoc, which is a little wilder, less touristy, more authentic.

  25. Brooke Saward

    April 4, 2018

    Sounds so good! I’ll add it to my list for this trip 🙂 thanks for the rec x


    Brittaney B

    April 4, 2018

    I’m currently reading the novel, A Paris Apartment. It’s a time slip story, and the historical story line features a young woman with a tie/interest in Victor Hugo.

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