Welcome / Bienvenue

This is our diary/log of where we’ve been and enjoyed in France, with a few comments thrown in. If anyone out there finds it useful, all the better, we are happy to share our fondness of Paris and especially the countryside — and to encourage others to experience the same.

— Jake & Maureen (Mo) Dear, December 2018

Recommended books and publications: Paris, France and the French

You can visit Paris for a few days and be impressed with the architecture, ambiance, restaurants, and pleasant hotels. But if, after doing that, you decide you want to return for more — to the city or the countryside — you may want to do two things likely to enhance your experience: (1) learn more (or at least some) of the language; and (2) learn about the country’s history and culture. Our French language skills are pretty sad, and yet we try. Reading about France alot easier. In our "General Notes" section, we've listed some of our favorite Paris and France Web sites. Below we’ve listed a selection of our favorite books. Those marked “►” are especially recommended.

General guidebooks

The Michelin Green Guide: Separate guides are available for Paris, and for the rest of France: Brittany, Normandy, Northern France and the Paris Region (also know as “ile de France” — the countryside surrounding Paris), Alsace Lorraine / Champagne, Chateaux of the Burgundy/ Jura, French Alps, Auvergne/Rhone Valley, Dordogne/Berry/Limousin, Atlantic Coast, Languedoc/Roussillon/Tarn Gorges, Provence, and “French Riviera.” Versions of these French guides are often used by the French. The titles listed above have been translated into English, and many also are available in Italian, German, and Spanish, among other languages — and so one benefit of this guide is that you are not immediately identified as an American (or British, or German, etc.) tourist if you are seen with one of these.

Also recommended: The Eyewitness Travel Guides for Paris and various other regions (including the "Back Roads France" guide -- setting out 24 suggested driving tours); Access Paris; the Cadogan Guides for the various regions of the country; and An Hour From Paris, by Annabel Simms (descriptions of 20 destinations in the Ile de France). Finally, for first-time visitors, many have found useful the Rick Steves Paris guide.

Magazines (on line and hard copy)

France. This British magazine is published (by paid subscription) bi-monthly in the United States. It covers France from the special and delightful perspective of a neighbor that has, for centuries, known and loved — and had other, more conflicted feelings for — la belle France.

France Today. This United States-based magazine is published 11 times yearly, and also is available by paid subscription on line. The free France Today Web site is very useful.

Paris Notes. We have been sad to learn that this classy newsletter, published (by paid subscription) ten times yearly by Mark Eversman, has announced that it will cease publication. We assume that the massive amount of free content on the Internet is at least partly to blame. Apparently, the Paris Notes site will stay up until September 2010, providing access to 50-plus available back copies. It's unclear what will become of the rest of the site, which has been free, and contains numerous well-written articles, tips, and usefully-categorized links to hundreds of other Paris-related sites (including excellent listings of hotel and apartment Web sites). First-time visitors will especially appreciate an excellent overview, “Paris for Beginners.”

Paris Walking, History, and Museum guides

Little Known Museums in and Around Paris, by Rachel Kaplan.

Walks Through Lost Paris by Leonard Pitt (“then-and now” pictures and history).

Around and About Paris (vols. 1-3) by Thirza Vallois (comprehensive and somewhat dense historical and architectural treatment of each of the 20 arrondissements).

Paris Then and Now by Peter & Oriel Caine (“then-and now” pictures by the folks that own and run “Paris Walking Tours.” (Hardcover, coffee table book.)

One Thousand Buildings of Paris, by Jorg Brockman, James Driscol & Kathy Borros (a thick compilation of notable Paris structures and a brief history of each, arranged by arrondissement).

Quiet Corners of Paris, by Jean-Christophe Napias. (Just as it sounds — a guide to contemplative places.)

Frommer’s Memorable Walks in Paris, by Jeanne Oliver.

The Secret Gardens of Paris, by Alexandra d’Arnoux & Bruno de Laubadère.

The Quays and Bridges of Paris, An Historical Guide, By Marc Gaillard (well illustrated).

Paris (and Regional) Restaurant and Dining Guides

Hungry for Paris, by Alexander Lobrano. (2008 & updated 2010.) This companionable and well-written guide to "102 of the city's best restaurants" well conveys the personality of each establishment. (Lobrano also provides a useful opening chapter, "The Happy Eater's Almanac: How to have a Perfect Meal in Paris"), covering some of the points we make in our own "12 tips" elsewhere on this site.)

Hungry for France, by Alexander Lobrano. (2014.) A counterpart to the above book, focusing on the countryside, and including recipes.  

Great Eats Paris, by Sandra Gustafson (10th ed. 2004) (we’ve found some of our favorite restaurants in this useful guide).

Food, Wine, Burgundy, by David Downie. This is Downie's latest “Terroir” guide. Roughly the size of a thick Green Guide (450+pages), it’s an opinionated, lively, and beautifully photographed celebration of the small scale wine producers, regional restaurants, bistros, inns, and food shops of the vast Bourgogne — the kind of countryside places we like to patronize. (we've noticed some dining favorites of ours in four of the book’s many recommendations — “Les Deux Ponts” in little Pierre-Perthuis; “Laroche Wine Bar” in Chablis; “Café St. Martin” in Chapaize; and “Le Relais de Flavigny,” in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain — and this makes us trust the rest of the book’s recommendations.)

Zagat, Paris Restaurants (2012/2013). Very useful. (As is the current Michelin Guide.)

Food Lover’s Guide to Paris, by Patricia Wells (although last updated in 1999, many descriptions remain apt; includes a nice listing of weekly markets, etc., and a great index of food terms/ translations).  Now available as an app -- see http://www.foodloversparis.com/

Restaurants of Paris (Knopf, 1994) (this book focuses on décor and history, and includes fine photos; even though dated, it’s still fun and useful).

Gourmet Paris, by Emmanuel Rubin (organized by dish — e.g., where to find the best Charcuterie, Duck confit, Rum Baba, Steak tartar, etc.).

Eating and Drinking in Paris, A Menu Reader and Restaurant Guide, by Andy Herbach and Michael Dillon.

Favorite Bistros of Paris, by Robert & Michele Seass

The Authentic Bistros of Paris, by Francois Thomazeau & Sylvain Ageorges.

The Historic Restaurants of Paris, by Ellen Williams.

Bistros of Paris, by Robert and Barbara Hamburger.

Boulangerie! (a pocket guide to Paris's famous bakeries), by Jack Armstrong & Delores Wilson.

The Cafés of Paris . . . a Guide, by Christine Graf.

Brasseries de Paris, photographics, Yannis Valmos. Not a dining guide, but instead a picture book showing the historic interiors of many brasseries that, unfortunately, today serve better atmosphere than food.  But at least you can usually get a reliable seafood platter, including great oysters, at most of these places.

Books Focusing on French Wine 

Adventures on the Wine Route, by Kermit Lynch.  (A wine buyer’s tour of France.)  

Jura Wine, by Wink Lorch.  A fine guide to the very distinctive wines of this less-appereciated region.  

The Great Domaines of Burgundy, by Remington Norman and Charles Taylor, MW (3rd ed), Forward by Michael Broadbent, MW (“a Guide to the finest wine producers of the Côte d’Or”). 

Inside Burgundy, by Jasper Morris, MW (the vineyards, the wine and the people” — with amazingly detailed maps). 
Climats et Lieux-Dits des Grands Vignobles de Bourgogne, by Silvian Pitiot & Marie-Helene Landrieu-Lussigny (providing separate excellent full-page maps side-by-side for each village, one showing “climats” and the other “lieux-dits”). 
The Wines of Burgundy, by Clive Coates, MW (“the Bible of Burgundy”). 
The Road to Burgundy, by Ray Walker (the very unlikely story of an American making wine and a new life in France).
I'll Drink to That, by Rudolph Chelminski (the story of Beaujolais and Georges Deboeuf ).
The Widow Clicquot, by Tilar J. Mazzeo (the story of a Champagne empire and the woman who ruled it).

Families of the Vine, by Michael S. Sanders (seasons among winemakers in the southwest).

Paris and France Dining Memoirs, Biographies, Studies, etc.

Between MealsAn Appetite for Paris, by A.J. Liebling (recollections of Paris dining in the 1930s-1950s).

The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz (a well written and offbeat account of "delicious adventures" — cultural, social, and culinary). (See also the excellent blog of the same name.)

 A Meal Observed, by Andrew Todhunter (a study of the former three-star restaurant, Taillevent).

Burgundy Stars, by William Echikson (the story of a the Michelin three-star restaurant, La Cote d’Or).

The Invention of the Restaurant (Paris and the Modern Gastronomic Culture), by Rebecca L. Spang (reads like a turgid PhD. thesis — but it’s full of esoteric information for those so inclined).

Savoring the Past, by Barbara Ketcham Wheaton ("The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789").

Remembrance of Things Paris (Sixty Years of Writing From Gourmet), edited by Ruth Reichl.

Plats du Jour, by William Black ("a journey into the heart of French food" by a gastronome who has traveled the length and breadth of France).

The Table Comes First, by Adam Gopnik ("Family, France, and the meaning of food").

Mastering the Art of French Eating, by Ann Mah (a nice introduction to the various regional cuisines of the country).      

Paris & France History

Is Paris Burning?, by Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre (how Paris escaped detonation at the close of WWII).

The Road from the Past, by Ina Caro (travel-related history essays).

The Greater Journey, by David McCullough (the story of Americans who learned from Paris in the 19th Century).

The Paris Métro: A Ticket to French History, by Susan L. Plotkin (the story behind each of the hundreds of names given to Métro stations).

Americans in Paris: Life and Death under the Nazi Occupation 1940-1944, by Charles Glass.
The Discovery of France, by Graham Robb (a very readable overview explaining "how the modern nation came to be, and how poorly understood that nation still is today").

Parisians  An Adventure History of Paris, by Graham Robb (focusing on the true stories of "the lives of the great, the near-great, and the forgotten" of Paris over the past 300 years).

The Last Duel, by Eric Jager (this short and engrossing book, the true story of the last judicially-ordered duel in France, transports you back to Normandy and Paris in the 1380s; it's a fascinating description of medieval society, law, and combat).

Blood Royal, by Eric Jager (a true story of crime -- the assassination of the Duke of Orleans -- and detection in medieval Paris, 1407, with impressive endnote documentation).  

A Traveller’s History of Paris, by Robert Cole.

A Traveller’s History of France, by Robert Cole.

Paris, The Biography of A City, by Colin Jones (well footnoted and indexed, but some may find it dense).

Seven Ages of Paris, by Alistaire Horne (similar to above).

Paris, The Secret History, by Andrew Hussy (again, similar to above).

Literary Paris: A Guide, by Jessica Powell. (This well illustrated book profiles thirty writers — including Albert Camus, Ernest Hemmingway, Gertrude Stein, George Sand, Janet Flanner, and Emile Zola — and the places in the city integral to their daily lives.)

Métro Stop Paris, An Underground History of the City of Light, by Gregor Dallas (exploring history and more by focusing on twelve métro stops).

Paris Between the Wars 1919-1939, Art Life & Culture, by Vincent Bouvet and Gerard Durozi (2010; translated from the French original, 2009). Beautifully illustrated.

The Belly of Paris, by Emile Zola, translated (and with an excellent introduction by) Mark Kurlansky.  (This famous novel depicts political, gastronomic and social life in Les Halles, circa late 1850s.)

Dawn of the Belle Epoque, by Mary McAuliffe ("The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends"). 

Clash of Crowns, by Mary McAuliffe ("A story of bloodshed, betrayal, and revenge" involving William the Conqueror, Lichard Lionheart, and Elanore of Aquitaine). 

French Culture & Society

Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, by Jean Benoit Nadeau & Julie Barlow (a sophisticated explanation and critique of French society and ways; the title stems from a Cole Porter musical).

Savoir Flair! and French or Foe?, both by Polly Platt (easily readable tips on enjoying and understanding France and the French).

When in France, Do as the French Do, by Ross Steele (similar to above).

Paris Inside Out, The Insider’s Handbook to Life in Paris, by David Applefield (loaded with tips, practical and deep).

The French, by Theodore Zeldin (originally published in 1982, but still worth reading today; this is a classic and intelligent review by a well informed Englishman).

Stuff Parisians Like, by Olivier Magny (as the cover says: "Discovering the quoi in je ne sais quoi" — perceptive and quite funny, although sometimes it feels tediously sarcastic).

Paris Memoirs

Paris, Paris, by David Downie (the author has lived in Paris for 20-plus — this book is beautifully written). See also the related web site, Paris Paris, the book. (For a mystery/ thriller set in Paris, check out Downie's fast-paced Paris, City of Night.)

The Collected Traveler — Paris, by Barrie Keeper (a collection of short stories, detailed practical information, and more).

Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik (five years of Paris experiences, beautifully written).

A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemmingway (a gossipy classic). Note: a revised version was re-released in July 2009 with some controversial revisions and additions — see this critical Op-Ed analysis in the New York Times).

Paris, Traveler’s Tales Guides (a collection of essays).

Into a Paris Quarter, by Diane Johnson (regarding the author’s 6eme apartment and neighborhood).

A Corner in the Marais, by Alex Karmel (regarding the author’s 4th arrondissement and neighborhood).

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, by Thad Carhart (about what it says, an more).

I’ll Always Have Paris, by Art Buchwald.

The First Time I Saw Paris, Photographs and Memories from the City of Light, by Peter Miller.

Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris. (Learning French . . . and more.)

Paris à vue d’oeil, by Henri Cartier-Bresson. (Classic and less known photographs.)

The Flâneur, by Edmund White. (“A stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris.”)

Almost French, by Sarah Turnbull. ("Love and a new life in Paris," by an Australian journalist.)

Paris was Ours, edited by Penelope Rowlands. ("32 writers reflect on the City of Light.")

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, by John Baxter. (The author's remembrances of giving literary walking tours in Paris.)

Immovable Feast, by John Baxter. (The author's remembrance of planning and preparing Christmas dinner for his French in-laws.) 

We'll Always Have Paris, by John Baxter. (The author's remembrance of falling in love in Paris.) 

Memoirs of France

From Here, You Can’t See Paris, by Michael S. Sanders (seasons of a small southwestern village and its restaurant).

France, Traveler’s Tales Guides (collection of essays).

France, A Love Story (Women Write About the French Experience), edited by Camille Cusumano (a collection of essays).

Paris in the Fifties, by Stanley Karnow.

At Home in France, by Ann Barry (the author’s experiences in the southwest).

The Secret Life of the Seine, by Mort Rosenblum (the story of the river and the author’s floating home, a former barge).

French Dirt, by Richard Goodman (story of a garden, village, and neighbors in the south).

French Impressions (The Adventures of an American Family) by John S. Littell (an American Family in 1950-1951 France).

How to Travel Incognito, by Ludwig Bemelmans (1952, republished 2003) (comic post-WWII travelogue).

“Spotted Dick, S’il Vous Plait,” by Tom Higgins (the story of an English restaurant in Lyon — a British perspective is almost always amusing).

Two Towns in Provence, by M.F.K. Fisher. (A loving study of Aix-en-Provence & Marseille.)

Long Ago in France, by M.F.K. Fisher. (Dijon in the late 1920s/ early 1930s.)

Suite Française, by Irène Némirovsky. (Life in France in 1940-1941; a controversial story of survival, compromise, and collaboration.)

I'll Never be French (no matter what I do), by Mark Greenside (a New Yorker/ Californian's warm and playful story about falling in love with a tiny Celtic village in Brittany).

The Oysters of Locmariaquer, by Eleanor Clark (this 1965 classic, winner of the National Book Award, is about more than Brittany's famous Belon oysters).

Portraits of France, by Robert Daley ("So and insightful that it immediately goes beyond the genre of travel writing").

Virgile's Vineyard, by Patrick Moon ("A year in the Languedoc wine country").

Arrazat's Aubergines, by Patrick Moon ("Inside a Languedoc Kitchen").

I'll Drink to That, by Rudolph Chelmiski ("Beaujolais and the French peasant to make it 'the world's most popular wine' " the story of Georges Duboeuf).

Adventures on the Wine Route, by Kermit Lynch ("A wine buyer's tour of France" and the proprietor of one of our favorite wine shops).

Murder mysteries, etc., set in France

Bruno, Chief of Police; The Dark Vineyard Black Diamond, The Crowded  Grave, The Devil's Cave, and Children of War, all by Martin Walker. (These are exceptionally well done by someone who clearly knows and appreciates the culture of the French countryside, and the Perigord especially. We love Bruno, and look forward to more!)

Shopping & Miscellaneous

Markets of Paris, by Dixon and Ruthanne Long (a guide to markets for food, antiques, artisanal crafts, and more); and Markets of Paris, second edition (2012), by Dixon Long and Marjorie R. Williams.

The Riches of Paris, A Shopping and Touring Guide, by Maribeth Clemente.

Entrez -- Signs of France, by Steven Rothfeld and Andre Aciman (literally, what it says, beautifully photographed). 

France hotel guides

The Rough Guide to French Hotels & Restaurants  (le Guide du Routard). Very useful.

Michelin Charming Places to Stay. Again, very useful, but we've not seen an update from the 2004 version.

Hotels and Country Inns of Character and Charm in France, by Michelle Gastaut, Jean & Tatiana de Beaumont, Anne Deren, Véroniqie De Andreis, Livia Roubaud, with Jean-Emmanuel Richomme (Fodor’s/ Rivages). Although the essence of this guide (and the following two as well) is now available on line, we still find the hard copy very useful.

Hotels of Character and Charm in Paris, by Jean & Tatiana de Beaumont, and Michelle Gassaut, edited by Véroniqie De Andreis (Hunter/ Rivages).

Bed and Breakfasts of Character and Charm in France, by Jean & Tatiana de Beaumont, Véroniqie De Andreis, Anne Deren, and Jean-Emmanuel Richomme (Hunter/ Rivages).

Karen Brown’s France, Charming Inns & Itineraries. This book (and its sister, below), updated yearly, lists many places that are not available on the free web version of this guide.

Karen Brown’s France, Charming Bed & Breakfasts.


Adam Dear said...

nice going but ur still not as good with computers as i am

Annemarie van der Zwet said...

Hello Jake

My name is Annemarie van der Zwet and I am contacting you in name of my company because I have a question about the possibility for a partnership. I hate to do this via a comment but I could not find a contact address. I hope you can give me an address to contact so I can explain my ideas.

kind regards,
Annemarie van der Zwet

Annemarie van der Zwet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Polly-Vous Francais said...

Great list of books! Some are already favorites, and some others to discover.

Ah, there goes the book budget.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Jake Dear said...

OK, after these two silly spams, I'll institute a comment verification step.