5 Books Set in Paris You Must Read Before You Visit


0d0c19531d6e29f793ed165732978408 LWith Lonely Planet naming Paris as the city to visit in 2014 and World Book Day taking place on the 6th March, 2014, what better way to celebrate both than by combining the two? We all know that Paris boasts an impressive literary history, having been home to the great writers of past, present and future – so if you fancy experiencing some of the magic for yourself, here are a few of guest contributor Josie Sampson’s favorite books that take place in the City of Light.




A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway (1964)
Every writer that’s ever dreamed of residing in Paris and making a living from his words is dreaming of A Moveable Feast. In this classic novel, Hemingway writes of the early years of his life in 1920s Paris, his first marriage to Hadley Richardson and his escapades with a pre-Gatsby Fitzgerald in such a way as to evoke awe and jealously from readers the world over. If you’re a fan of moments of inspiration lovingly paired with mountains of inebriation, A Moveable Feast is the Parisian autobiography for you.


511krl1ZVELThe Flâneur – Edmund White (2001)
By definition, a flâneur saunters the streets, appearing to be absorbed in their own world, but in fact taking in everything that they see. One such flâneur is American novelist Edmund White, who called Paris his home for sixteen years and lived to not only tell the tale but also to dish the dirt on the underbelly of the city’s glamorous veneer. To read The Flâneur is to wander through the backstreets of Paris, privy to the seductive and exciting secrets that visitors don’t usually get to enjoy.

TropicOfCancerTropic of Cancer – Henry Miller (1934)
Published in Paris in 1934, Tropic of Cancer was deemed just too sexually explicit for American eyes and the book was prevented from reaching the country until 1961. This semi-autobiographical work of fiction loosely follows Miller’s life as a struggling writer in late ’20 Depression-era Paris and the pages overflow with controversy. Even today, the book still has the power to shock and contains not-to-be-missed insights into a side of Paris that’s perhaps normally kept behind closed doors.

1956 Notre Dame de Paris.jpg 1Notre Dame de Paris – Victor Hugo (1831)
You probably know it as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris is about so much more than simply Quasimodo. The book itself was written as a love letter to the hauntingly gothic buildings of Paris that, at the time of Hugo’s writing, were fading from eminence and falling into disrepair. Taking place in 15th century Paris, the story follows the compellingly tragic lives of hunchbacked Quasimodo who falls madly into a doomed love with beautiful gypsy Esmeralda after she shows him just one moment’s simple kindness.
UnknownA Year in the Merde – Stephen Clarke (2004)
Writing as his alter ego “Paul West” and changing the names of everyone else involved (for his sake as much as theirs), Stephen Clarke shares his experience of a year spent living in Paris as a 27-year-old Brit expat. The resulting book, A Year in the Merde is a laugh out loud account of life in Paris, taking off the rose tinted glasses for a no-holds-barred look that goes beyond the usual romance and seduction of the City of Love. A Year in the Merde brilliantly shows us a side of Paris that you won’t find in the guidebooks.
So if you’re tempted to delve deeper into Parisian life for yourself and discover something new on the romantic streets of the capital, then don’t hesitate for a moment longer. Snap up your paperback of choice and head straight to the airport – or simply jump on the Eurostar into the city! Once you’re there, be sure to check out the selection of Parisian hotels from Expedia, proving a great base for exploring your newfound city secrets.
By Josie Sampson


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