Happy Bastille Day: 10 Best Books on Paris

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

In honor of Bastille Day, I'd like to share our favorite authors (and their books) about Paris. We've interviewed the authors - so be sure to click through and read - and explore Paris, through so many eyes.

Ten best books on Paris

Photo wikimedia commons: Gloumouth1, adapted by Wandering Eductors

Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite!

Top Ten Books about Paris

Hungry for Paris

Hungry for Paris, by Alexander Lobrano

Paris. Yes. You say the word and immediately think of great food! But as everyone who has visited Paris can attest, actually FINDING excellent food is a challenge when you're hungry, or don't speak French well, or are unsure of where to go. I've just read a book that solves this problem in the best way. The book? Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City's 102 Best Restaurants. Written by renowned food writer Alexander Lobrano, this book is a treasure. Filled with the aforementioned 102 restaurant recommendations, it goes far beyond the standard guidebook or restaurant guide and truly shares French cuisine - the good and the bad, the under- and over-rated, and the best meals - with readers. The book is arranged geographically, by arrondissement. Each restaurant has a story behind it - and a detailed menu of what Alec (and companions) ate - as well as recommendations, prices, locations, and history. FINALLY, a food guide that treats food - and restaurants - seriously. The reader also gets a glimpse into Alec's culinary history - and there is nothing so enticing, for foodies, to read about how much other people also love food - and their stories. Eating out 6 times a week will do that - and I am in awe (and in envy) of Alec's dining experiences. His love of food - and of sharing it - is a boon for all of us. 


Paris made by hand

Paris: Made by Hand, by Pia Jane Bijkerk

I just have to share with you my favorite new book. I love Paris (who doesn't?). I love the food, the culture, the history, the gorgeous art, the way Paris can change while at the same time staying timeless. But I also love the quirks of Paris - stumbling across tiny shops, fresh markets, beautiful flowers cascading from alley windows, cars parked crazily on sidewalks. So, let me share another love here with our Wandering Educators - a book that is already well-loved, Paris: Made by Hand, by Pia Jane Bijkerk. I first found Pia on her gorgeous site, playing an original, haunting piano piece that sticks with me still or listening to the rain from her houseboat in Amsterdam - with lovely photos to accompany the rain.  The more I dug into Pia's site, the more I became impressed with her great work - her creativity, her extraordinary photography, and her Self.  She's got a lovely new book, entitled Paris: Made by Hand. Published by The Little Bookroom (so you KNOW it is wonderful), this book is a treasure. Right from the start, I was intrigued by the beautiful cover. Open it up, and enter a unique, creative world that would take ages to discover, if we didn't have this gem in our hands. 


Paris Insights

Paris Insights

Once you fall in love with Paris (and who doesn't?), it seems like you can't get enough - enough visits, sabbaticals, food, books. I've got the perfect book to help you get through the spaces between visits (and help planning them). We've interviewed Tom Reeves about sharing his love of the French culture with travelers through Discover Paris! (a travel service focusing on cultural travel to Paris), Paris Insights (a book and newsletter), and Paris Insights the blog, which is where I first found him, extolling some extraordinary Parisian Chocolates (see? HE KNOWS). Well, here is the promised interview about Paris Insights: An Anthology.

Paris Insights: An Anthology is a wonderful, inspiring love letter to Paris. It's full of insightful essays about 5 different aspects of Paris:
La Vie Parisienne, Americans in Paris, Churches and Cathedrals, Tasty Treats, and Paris, Past and Present.


Paris Encounter

Lonely Planet's Paris Encounter

A small, pocket-sized guidebook, Lonely Planet's Paris Encounter is the perfect book to take when you're headed to Paris for a weekend (or when you are new to Paris and definitely need the pull-out map!). 


Paris - A La Carte Maps

Extraordinary Travel Insights with A La Carte Maps
We love the Paris map by A La Carte Maps - it is SO amazing. Our daughter just LOVES Paris. She knows facts, the places she wants to see first (and tenth!), and the best places to play. When we opened this map, she was ecstatic. It is beautiful, full of great insider tips, maps, websites, and more. I am extremely impressed!  There is an accompanying letter with great information, access to the website, and a plethora of local tips that I'd never heard of - Brilliant! THIS is the way to travel.


Eat Smart in France

Book Review and Author Interview: Eat Smart in France

Are you an intelligent traveler - one that wants to learn deeply about a culture before, during, and after you visit? Do you love to dig in to the food, traditions, textiles, music, books? I've discovered the book series for you. Eat Smart books give a great introduction to the inner workings of a culture, based on food and traditions. We've shared Eat Smart Sicily, by author and Eat Smart Publisher Joan Peterson, here on Wandering Educators. In fact, I just love the whole Eat Smart series (10 books, now!) - they truly are travel guides for food lovers.

The latest book in the Eat Smart series is one that just calls to me - Eat Smart in France: How to decipher the menu, know the market foods, and embark on a tasting adventure. Filled with recipes (!), gorgeous photos, the history of French cuisine, tips for shopping, resources for finding ingredients, helpful phrases, a menu guide, food and flavor guide, and (the best part, as all academics know), a reference guide to the food establishments. The contents of this book are a treasure - cleanly written, with experience and enthusiasm as only one who loves France and French food can share.


Sweet Life in Paris

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. 

I laughed and learned about life in Paris on every page, and at the end of every chapter drooled over a recipe from this master dessert chef. Oh, the chocolate! Ah, Paree! The practical information will help anyone going to Paris for the first time, the recipes will keep a cook happy, and you’ll smile at the misadaventures. (From A Traveler's Library)


Paris Movie Walks

Paris Movie Walks, Ten Guided Tours Through the City of Lights, Camera, Action, by Michael Schurmann won me over because the author does not stop with just "this scene took place here" walks through Paris.  He adds tidbits about movies in general, about adapting to Paris, tips on saving money at pricey restaurants, which movies to see before you go, and much more. In other words, something for just about everyone. A delightful sense of humor goes with his dedication to digging up all the details. This book was recently released, and as the author points out, since Paris is a prime scene for movies, a 2nd edition will surely follow the first.  (From A Traveler's Library)


Children's Books

Crepes by Suzette

Crepes for Bastille Day

Today is Bastille Day, in France. That is when people demanded Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite!

I love Paris, especially the food. One of my most-loved books is called Crepes by Suzette, by Monica Wellington. I love it because she cooks crepes, and shows some of my favorite paintings, as well. But, of course, I am thinking of crepes, one of my very favorite foods. She sells her crepes to people all over Paris, and has photos of different neighborhoods and gardens. Some parts are really funny and make me laugh.  There's even a recipe for crepes - our favorite!


Bella & Harry - Let's Visit Paris!

The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let's Visit Paris!

This picture book was written by Lisa Manzione, and is beautifully illustrated by Kristine Lucco. It's adorable. Bella and Harry are two Chihuahuas from a book series, who head to Paris. They ride in an airplane, look at la Tour d'Eiffel, eat at a bistro, and visit the Louvre. Harry gets lost in the Louvre, then they head to the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysees, and rest in their hotel. Lucco's illustrations bring Paris alive to the reader - from the Mona Lisa to the crowds on a street; from the food at a bistro to the Eiffel Tower. Bella and Harry are very cute dogs. There are even a few phrases to get you started on learning French!


More Paris Goodies:

And not a book, but learning - a Context Tour through Thomas Jefferson's Paris:

Walk with Thomas Jefferson: A Context Tour
Context Travel, the scholarly tour company and leader in sustainable tourism, announced today the launch of a new initiative in its Tours in the Public Interest program. During the month of July, the company will be offering a new Paris tour, Walk with Thomas Jefferson, at the token price of 5 Euro per person.

“In this age of mass tourism we think it’s important to take travelers off the beaten path and show them new ways of experiencing the great cities of the world,” says Context Travel co-Founder Paul Bennett. “For this reason, we have decided to celebrate the American Independence Day and the month of July, by offering our new “A Walk with Thomas Jefferson” tour in Paris for just 5 Euros.”

During this three-hour seminar, Context docents discuss the impact of Paris on Thomas Jefferson, while tracing a course past significant monuments and urban spaces that influenced his architectural and aesthetic sensibilities.


And if you're lucky enough to be IN Paris today, check out:

Ten Free - or Almost Free - Things to Enjoy in Paris

and Paris Greeters - a unique way to experience Paris - What better way to see a place than with a local guide?  Paris Greeters aims to help solve that too-common dilemma of many travelers of being stuck in a new city and learning about only the tourist attractions, and pairs visitors up with local volunteers for an afternoon.