When I travel, I love to read a novel beforehand that takes place in the city or country of my destination. Of course I can browse through a travel guide, but I prefer to be immersed in a story, so I can already feel the atmosphere and get in the right mood. Before I came to Paris I had read so many books about this city, that when I got off the train it felt like I was coming home.
There are so many novels set in Paris that I can’t name them all, but here are some of my favorites.
The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared.
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway’s memories of his life as an unknown writer living in Paris in the twenties are deeply personal, warmly affectionate and full of wit. Looking back not only at his own much younger self, but also at the other writers who shared Paris with him – James Joyce, Wyndham Lewis, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald – he recalls the time when, poor, happy and writing in cafes, he discovered his vocation.
The Red Notebook – Antoine Laurain
Bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street and feels impelled to return it to its owner. The bag contains no money, phone or contact information. But a small red notebook with handwritten thoughts and jottings reveals a person that Laurent would very much like to meet. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?
Hunchback of the Notre Dame – Victor Hugo
Rejected by fifteenth-century Parisian society, the hideously deformed bell-ringer Quasimodo believes he is safe under the watchful eye of his master, the Archdeacon Claude Frollo. But after Quasimodo saves the beautiful Romani girl Esmeralda from the gallows and brings her to the sanctuary in the cathedral, he and Frollo’s mutual desire for her put them increasingly at odds, before compassion and cruelty clash with tragic results.
Paris for One – Jojo Moyes
Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She has never even been on a weekend away with her boyfriend. Everyone knows she is just not the adventurous type.
But, when her boyfriend doesn’t turn up for their romantic mini-break, Nell has the chance to prove everyone wrong.
Alone in Paris, Nell meets the mysterious moped-riding Fabien and his group of carefree friends. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life?
A Week in Paris – Rachel Hore
When talented young violinist Fay Knox arrives in Paris from England, the city feels familiar to her. But not because Fay has visited Paris before. Back home, she finds an old canvas bag with a mysterious luggage tag hidden in her mother’s old trunk and soon starts to realize her connection with the streets of Paris runs deeper than she ever imagined. As Fay traces the past, she is taken back to 1937 Paris – and the eve of a war that changed her mother’s life forever. When she discovers a dark secret buried years ago, Fay begins to question who she really is and where she belongs.
If you have another tip for me, please let me know!