If you know me well, or have been following along with The Avid Pen for awhile you’ll know why having a Francophile’s Christmas Book List was the obvious choice. This list contains something for the fashionista, the fiction lover, the history and film buffs, the photographer, the traveler and even something for the littles in your life.
For the historical fiction lover.
Sweetbitter meets The Nightingale in this page-turning novel about a woman who returns to her family’s ancestral vineyard in Burgundy and unexpectedly uncovers a lost diary, an unknown relative, and a secret her family has been keeping since World War II
To become one of only a few hundred certified wine experts in the world, Kate must pass the notoriously difficult Master of Wine Examination. She’s failed twice before; her third attempt will be her last. Suddenly finding herself without a job and with the test a few months away, she travels to Burgundy, to spend the fall at the vineyard estate that has belonged to her family for generations. There she can bolster her shaky knowledge of Burgundian vintages and reconnect with her cousin Nico and his wife Heather, who now oversee the grapes’ day-to-day management. The one person Kate hopes to avoid is Jean-Luc, a neighbor vintner and her first love.
At the vineyard house, Kate is eager to help her cousins clean out the enormous basement that is filled with generations of discarded and forgotten belongings. Deep inside the cellar, behind a large armoire, she discovers a hidden room containing a cot, some Resistance pamphlets, and an enormous cache of valuable wine. Piqued by the secret space, Kate begins to dig into her family’s history—a search that takes her back to the dark days of the Second World War and introduces her to a relative she never knew existed, a great half-aunt who was teenager during the Nazi occupation.
As she learns more about her family, the line between Resistance and Collaboration blurs, driving Kate to find the answers to two crucial questions: Who, exactly, did her family aid during the difficult years of the war? And what happened to six valuable bottles of wine that seem to be missing from the cellar’s collection? — Goodreads
Read my interview with Ann here.
Want to find out which of the seven French tribes you belong to?
Are the French masters at self-promotion, or is there really something behind all that bravado ? From fashion to food to the art of seduction — why do we all want their je ne sais quoi ? And, sacrebleu, how do we get it ?
With tongue-in-cheek humor, this savvy guide takes us on a tour de France rich in history, anecdotes, and crème-de-la-crème addresses. The authors introduce us to seven French “tribes” and divulge their most enviable Gallic secrets, from what to take to dinner and why you should never arrive on time, to why written correspondence — from the thank you note to the sexy text — is everything.
Covering wardrobe essentials and personal style advice, cult houseware products and infallible recipes, life-enhancing customs and faux pas to avoid, this indispensable guide filled with insider scoops unlocks — at last — the secrets for celebrating la vie en rose. — Goodreads
Read my review of Ze French Do It Better here.
For the French cinema buff.
Starring the likes of Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, and Jeanne Moreau, and directed by iconoclasts such as Francois Truffaut, Eric Rohmer, and Jean-Luc Godard, French movies are as touching, beautiful, and romantic as they come in all of film. Le Cinéma Français captures their spirit in whimsical detail. Each movie is covered with a plot summary; back stories; and illustrations by author/artist Anne Keenan Higgins of highlight scenes, costumes, props, and characters that are as enchanting as the films themselves.
This gorgeously gifty tribute to French cinema is not just for movie buffs or followers of international films, but for all who are enchanted by French culture.
Read my interview with Anne here.
Florals and beautiful views of the City of Light when it’s in bloom by famed photographer Georgianna Lane. This book is in a word, Exquisite.
Paris—City of Love, City of Light, City of Flowers. From elegant floral boutiques to lively flower markets to glorious blooming trees and expansive public gardens, flowers are the essential ingredient to the lush sensory bouquet that is Parisian life. With beautiful photography, Paris in Bloom transports readers on a stunning floral tour of the city, and provides recommendations to the best flower markets and a detailed guide to spring blooms. Timeless in content, Paris in Bloom is a book for Paris lovers to savor again and again, one to keep on the nightstand to conjure fond memories of their first visit and inspire dreams of the next. — Goodreads
Read my interview with Georgianna here.
Does your bestie love all things fashion? Then this guide to Paris through the fashion eye is the perfect gift.
Paris is an illustrated guide to one of the world’s most-loved fashion cities by one of the world’s most-successful fashion illustrators. In the second of her series of books on classic fashion destinations, Megan Hess takes you on a super stylish adventure through the French capital, showing you the best places for a fashionista to eat, sleep, shop and play – all illustrated in her inimitable, elegant style.
Megan’s tour reveals where fashion icons such as Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfield, Chistian Dior and Louis-François Cartier worked and played, the top restaurants, hotels, boutiques and sites to visit, as well as Megan’s own personal favorite places to shop. This is a must-have insider’s guide to Paris for any fashion lover or Francophile. — Amazon
Also for the littles, Megan has her Claris in Paris series.
Read my interview with Megan here.
To get an inside view of the beloved landmarks 900 years and the aftermath of the fire that could have destroyed it, check out this book that celebrates the history of Notre Dame.
A marvel of Gothic architecture, the cornerstone of Notre Dame Cathedral was laid in 1163, and construction was completed in 1345. For almost nine centuries it has served as a house of worship and refuge-a stalwart soldier that has survived wars and revolutions, hosted royal weddings, coronations, and funerals, and inspired Victor Hugo’s literary classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame. With the cathedral wounded but still standing, the world now watches as the rebuilding process gets underway. Notre Dame de Paris: A Celebration of the Cathedralchronicles the history of this landmark building, from its impressive architecture and collection of priceless artifacts to its presence during major world historical events. Through gorgeous, striking, and sometimes rarely seen archival photographs, Notre Dame de Paris: A Celebration of the Cathedralreminds us all why this building has become an unofficial wonder of the world, lodged in the hearts and minds of people around the globe. — Amazon
Read my review of Notre Dame de Paris here.
If you love exploring cities on foot, this illustrated walking guide is one you’ll want to have in your bag.
Finally, the “must-do, must-visit, must-see” travel list given to you by the Parisian friend you’ve been longing to have. Charmingly illustrated throughout, this practical guide will transport readers to the delightful sites and discoveries of Paris. Vibrant watercolors illustrate destinations including architectural marvels, gardens, historical highlights, cultural hubs, markets, food and wine favorites, and lots of little “je ne sais quoi’s” that make Paris so magical. Cultural musings, accessible histories, anecdotes, and informative details accompany the illustrations throughout, making this volume truly as practical as it is beautiful.
The book features seven specially curated daylong walking tours. Winsome watercolor maps of the “promenades” with colorful icons of suggested sites guide readers through the romantic, winding Parisian streets, passing cafés, historical sights, small galleries, outdoor markets, and the kind of authentic and timeless places that one hopes to find when imagining the city. The careful artistry, insider’s musings, and approachable readability—both visually and texturally—in this book will delight and inspire tourists and armchair travelers alike. — Amazon
Read my interview with Jessie here.
Planning a trip to Paris over the holiday season? This is a book you’ll want to have on hand.
A visit to Paris can often seen like a highlight reel — the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower. But Paris isn’t only about the big attractions; in fact, some might say it’s the offbeat destinations that hold the greatest treasures. The Little(r) Museums of Paris takes a whimsical journey through these smaller destinations, from the fantastical to the bizarre, offering both a guide to the city and inspiration for armchair travelers.
Rather than traveling by neighborhood, this charming guide explores the different types of institutions nestled within Paris, from time capsules like the Musee Nissim de Camondo to explorations of the world beyond the city limits, including the Institute of the Arab World. Readers will peek behind the curtains of artists’ apartments and into the microscopes of collections of scientific oddities. Each entry opens up a new world of adventure, with a description of the museum’s collection, as well as a short history, watercolor illustrations, and a miniature map. For residents and visitors alike, the captivating illustrations and deeply-researched yet approachable writing will encourage greater appreciation of the cultural diversity, history, and colorful characters that give Paris that je ne sai quoi. — Goodreads
Read my interview with Emma here.
This book is currently on my bookshelf just waiting for my Christmas break to start. Can’t wait to get started on this one.
Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.
Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal. — Goodreads
Do you have a favorite book about all things French? Let me know in the comments below.