Our experts have chosen the best French literature and books, from French novels and fiction to French history and leading French figures such as Charles de Gaulle. Some French book recommendation lists are city specific such as the best books on Paris, some based on the country of France and some on topics such as French cooking
If you are new to French literature start with The Greatest French Novels.
The Campaigns of Napoleon
by David G Chandler
by Duff Cooper
With Eagles to Glory: Napoleon and His German Allies in the 1809 Campaign
by John H Gill
Private Memoirs Of The Court Of Napoleon
by Louis François Joseph Bausset-Roquefort
With Napoleon in Russia: Memoirs of General de Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza
by Armand de Caulaincourt
How did Napoleon Bonaparte, an upstart Corsican, go on to conquer half of Europe in the 16 years of his rule? Was he a military genius? And was he really that short? Historian Andrew Roberts, author of a bestselling biography of Napoleon, introduces us to the books that shaped how he sees l’Empereur—including little-known sources from those who knew Napoleon personally.
The Belle Epoque combined a preoccupation with the noblesse of the old regime with the seeds for modernism, says Oxford history professor Ruth Harris, author of an award-winning book on the Dreyfus affair. She picks the best books on a golden period in France before the outbreak of World War I.
It’s a revolution that still resonates and yet it resists easy interpretation. Lynn Hunt, a leading historian of the French Revolution, tells us what the events of 1789 and later years really meant, and what relevance they have for us today.
French theater is appreciated as much in reading as in performance. Princeton University’s Florent Masse offers us a reading from the point of view of teaching theater. How did the great men of theater—such as Jouvet, Copeau, or Vitez—build their learning? Discover the principles and references that guide the best directors. (You can also read this interview in the original French)
Down and Out in Paris and London
by George Orwell
Journey to the End of the Night
by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (translated by Ralph Manheim)
Overhead in a Balloon
by Mavis Gallant
The Belly of Paris
by Emile Zola (translated by Mark Kurlansky)
Dictionnaire Historique des Rues de Paris
by Jacques Hillairet
Hazareesingh’s book choices include de Gaulle’s “very readable” war diaries. In books of condolences after the leader’s death, people wrote things like, “Goodbye Charles, you were greater than Napoleon”
The historian and author chooses five books on de Gaulle and the Resistance. He says the British tried to veto de Gaulle’s famous 1940 speech from London calling on the French to stand up to German occupation