18 Books for Every Francophile on Your Gift List

Individual image credits: "Flâneuse," Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; "Apéritif," Clarkson Potter; "The New Paris," image via Amazon; all other images by Frenchly.

Whether it’s a chocolate-centric cookbook for your foodie cousin or a coffee table book profiling Parisians for your Sézane-addicted best friend, there’s a book for every person with an interest in France or French culture, cooking or style. Here’s our list of the 18 best books to give a Francophile this holiday season (or to just buy for yourself!).

1. For the hostess, “Apéritif: Cocktail Hour the French Way”

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L’apéritif is no Gallic translation of the Anglo Saxon happy hour, but instead a unique reflection of France’s entire outlook on food, complete with its own array of low alcohol (ABV) drinks and deliciously simple eats. Food writer Rebekah Peppler shares her tips and tricks for creating the perfect pre-dinner (or dinner!) French apéritif in “Apéritif: Cocktail Hour the French Way” (Clarkson Potter, 2018). Any lover of a good cheese plate, small French bites, or simple delicious eats will find what they need to host a good party in this book. (Read more about it here.) 

2. For the casual historian, “The Seine: The River That Made Paris”

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“The river allowed me to begin a journey of discovery — of Paris, of the French people, of myself. Its energy pumped through my veins; its light gave me strength.” @elainesciolino in her book "The Seine: The River that Made Paris"⁠ .⁠ Read our review of the book by clicking the link in bio⁠ .⁠ 📸@phineasjfr⁠ .⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #theseine #elainesciolino #theriverthatmadeparis #seine #bookreview #bookclub #bookreviewer #bookrecommendation #bibliophile #bookstagram #reading #igreads #bookworm #booknerd #booklover #booklove #lovebooks #bookish #bookstagramfeature #bouquin #livresaddict #bookphotography #passionlecture #livresque #lectureaddict #livrestagram #bookphotography⁣ #currentlyreading #readingismagic #bookobssesed

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A grounding force, a cardinal direction, a romantic feature — the Seine figures prominently in France, and in Paris especially. Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris bureau chief of The New York Times, explores the 483-mile waterway that crosses France in her latest book “The Seine: The River That Made Paris” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2019). The book contains nearly 30 chapters that describe the myriad ways the river has shaped the culture, industry, society and economy of France. However, “The Seine” is able to inform and teach readers about the river without overpowering them. Far from a dull, austere historical dissertation, Sciolino’s book is light-hearted, energetic and romantic — in a word: fun. (Read more about it here.)

3. For the aspiring parisienne, “In Paris: 20 Women on Life in the City of Light”

Model and entrepreneur Jeanne Damas and journalist Lauren Bastide wrote a fabulous coffee table book, “In Paris: 20 Women on Life in the City of Light” (Penguin 2018). The pair profiled 20 women that they felt embodied Paris — immigrants, entrepreneurs, septuagenarian fashionistas, mothers and everyone in between. Through photos of the women, their apartments and neighborhoods, their stories come to life and present a whole new image of what it means to be parisienne. In between profiles, Damas and Bastide share their own personal insight on what it means to be Parisian.

4. For the wine lover, “Wine Simple: A Totally Approachable Guide from a World-Class Sommelier”

Aldo Sohm, wine director at Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin, wrote a gem of a book with Christine Muhlke, “Wine Simple” (Clarkson Potter, 2019), for all the winos who want to drink and actually appreciate vin. The book starts with how wine is made and important wine terms before getting into a mix of practical and deep knowledge on the major cépages. Sohm’s how-to’s are extensive: how to taste wine, read a wine label, pick the right glass, pair wine with food… What sets the book above others of its kind is the layout. Imagine a wine book that also works as a coffee table book. Illustrations on pouring wine, colorful charts about acidity, body and alcohol content, a color wheel of wine aromas, boxes that set aside text, bolded and highlighted words… It’s the most understandable, enjoyable wine book you’ll ever read.

5. For the culture nut, “The Little(r) Museums of Paris”

There are at least 200 museums in the Paris region, many of them unknown to the standard traveler. Emma Jacobs thinks you should know about them. In “The Little(r) Museums of Paris: an Illustrated Guide to the City’s Hidden Gems” (Running Press, 2019), Jacobs provides a guide to some of the French capital’s smaller cultural institutions. Each museum’s listing includes a short history, anecdotes about its creation and advice on major works to see. By the time you’ve finished reading a listing, you’ll likely feel compelled to visit a museum you’d previously never heard of, never considered visiting, or didn’t know how to visit. (Read more about it here.)

6. For the decorator, “Creative Paris: Urban Interiors Inspiring Designers”

Published by the insider source on the French capital My Little Paris“Creative Paris: Urban Interiors Inspiring Innovators” (Flammarion 2019) presents the homes of over 30 different Parisians of the creative class in close to 700 color photographs. It is a look into the minds of creators, decor inspiration, and a home lifestyle guide that will have you itching to reorganize your bookshelves and plan a trip to the nearest flea market. Like many of today’s home decor coffee table books published in the era of visual stimulation — when most of our plans come from photos seen on Instagram and Pinterest — there are no instructions; you’re meant to take inspiration where you find it. (Read more about it here.)

7. For the chocolate lover, “Chocolate: Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts”

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🎉🎉📣 Parution aujourd'hui de "Chocolat", le nouveau livre de FERRANDI Paris aux éditions @flammarionlivres. Découvrez toutes les bases essentielles pour maîtriser le chocolat et préparez les recettes élaborées par les chefs pâtissiers de l'école. Un ouvrage de 304 pages disponible, en français 🇫🇷 et en anglais 🇬🇧, dans tous les points de vente de livre au tarif de 29,90€. 🎉🎉🎉 FERRANDI Paris' new book "Chocolate" released today by Flammarion editions – everything you need to master the art of chocolate, and make recipes devised by FERRANDI's own pastry chefs. This 304-page work, available in French 🇫🇷 and English 🇬🇧, can be purchased in all book retailers at the price of €29.90. #ferrandi #ferrandiparis #livreferrandi #livre #livredepatisserie #chocolat #chocolate #bonnelecture #lire #llovebooks  #livre #bookstagram #livrestagram #Instabook #instacuisine #livrederecettes #patisserie #pastry #pastrychef #gastronomie

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The globally-known cooking and hospitality school FERRANDI is bringing their knowledge out of the industrial kitchen and into yours. “Chocolate: Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts” (Flammarion, 2019) provides a comprehensive instructional on everything chocolate. Perfect for beginners in the kitchen, it starts with the basics of chocolate and cooking with it. The recipes will have you drooling: double-chocolate pain au chocolat, almond praline truffles, molten chocolate cakes… Instructions are clear and ingredients are listed in European and American measurements.

8. For the walker, “Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide”

Paris has seen countless books written about and dedicated to it, but a watercolor illustrated footmap, equally useful as a guide to the city and as a coffee table staple, is a first. Jessie Kanelos-Weiner and her co-author Sarah Moroz wanted to create a pragmatic book that organizes a walking journey through the city in a linear way. And thus was born, “Paris In Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide,” a book of seven guided walks around one of the most walkable cities in the world. (Read more about it here.)

9. For the culture observer, “Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You”

Despite loving France, many Francophiles still don’t understand the locals. Writer, editor, writing coach and France aficionado Janet Hulstrand knows this cultural gulf well, and wants to help close this gap through her newest book, “Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You” (Winged Words, 2019). In this energetic, informative book, Hulstrand uses her forty-plus years of French experiences to help you better understand French people and their customs. She splits the book into two sections, “Essential Tips for Even Very Brief Encounters” and “Understanding the French Mentality.” The result is part linguistic manual, part cultural guide, part personal essay, and completely fun to read. (Read more about it here.)

10. For the casual chef, “Lunch in Paris: Delicious and Simple French Recipes”

Lunch in Paris: Delicious and Simple French Recipes,” by Suzy Ashford (South Street Press, 2019), presents a collection of simple recipes for classic French dishes that prove you don’t have to go to culinary school to make something more complicated than a quiche. A self-taught Australian chef that dreams of her days when she was an expat in France, Ashford offers recipes ranging from sandwiches to main-course meats, salads and sides, rillettes and pâtés, and tartelettes and other sweets — all done simply. Her recipe for terrine, which the word alone has most people running for the hills, is supremely doable. Other often intimidating recipes, like salmon rillettes or lemon and almond tart, will also feel within the realm of possibility. (Read more about it here.)

11. For the Paris trend seeker, “The New Paris”

The New Paris,” by Lindsey Tramuta (Harry N. Abrams, 2017), is quite unlike any Paris book you’ve ever read. Part coffee table book, part guide, part explainer-of-Paris, “The New Paris” portrays a city in the midst of great change. In-depth interviews with the movers and shakers of the France’s capital portray how the most innovative things happening in the city are connected to multiculturalism, the rejection of restrictive French traditions, and the quality-not-quantity ethos, all of it fueled by the global recession that started in 2008. This book is perfect for anyone more interested in the city’s newcomers than the old guard.

12. For the funny Francophile, “Ze French Do It Better: A Lifestyle Guide”

Arguing, having timeless style, whipping up perfect and effortless dinners. It’s all… so French. “Ze French Do It Better,” by Frédérique Veysset and Valérie de Saint Pierre (Flammarion, 2019) examines, explains, and satirizes these French quirks and contradictions, so quintessentially a part of the French existence in outsiders’ eyes. Part lifestyle guide, part humorous sociological study, the book offers origin stories and explanations of why the French do life better and specific advice for how you, a non-French Francophile, can do it better too. (Read more about it here.)

13. For the cheese lover, “Fromages: An Expert’s Guide to French Cheese”

To be a good Francophile foodie, it’s important to know and appreciate what you’re eating. Enter the unofficial French cheese guide, “Fromages: An Expert’s Guide to French Cheese” by cheesemaker Dominique Bouchait (Rizzoli, 2019). From the proper way to serve and store Epoisses to the bacteria in lactic acid, everything you need to know about cheese is in this book, presented in a digestable fashion with mouthwatering pictures beside. You can sit down and read it cover to cover to become a historian, food scientist, chef, proper hostess, and walking encyclopedia on all things cheese. (Read more about it here.)

14. For the feminist, “Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London

Flâner encapsulates the idea of wandering or strolling aimlessly through the world to both see and be seen. Flâneur is the affiliated masculine noun, but what happens when women go for a walk? Lauren Elkin’s book “Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017) attempts to answer this question. Complex and rich, simultaneously historical analysis and personal memoir, Flâneuse is above all a dismantling of the patriarchal appropriation of urban space. Historically, women did not have such privilege to be flâneuse. However, despite social codes restricting women from city streets, women continued to walk. Elkin explores what walking has meant to urban women through the lens of five cities: New York, London, Paris, Venice, and Tokyo. (Read more about it here.)

15. For the explorer, “Don’t Be a Tourist in Paris”

If you ever want to curse someone with an insatiable wanderlust to visit Paris, hand them “Don’t Be a Tourist in Paris” (Roads 2017). Unlike many “off the beaten path” guidebooks which qualify a location as non-touristy based on its relative significance in the mainstream (re: Sacré-Coeur is non-touristy relative to the Eiffel Tower), Don’t Be a Tourist in Paris subverts the norm and explores locations away from the masses. Born from the blog, Messy Nessy Chic by British expat Vanessa Grall, this best-of-Paris-list-slash-travel-guide escorts readers through Grall’s Parisian world, full of quirky restaurants, strange museums, quiet courtyards, colorful streets, antique shops, and intimate dinner clubs. (Read more about it here.)

16. For the gourmand, “Let’s Eat France”

Let’s Eat France,” by François-Régis Gaudry (Artisan, 2018), is six pounds of culinary genius. The title is representative of what to expect: everything and anything related to France and food. The perfect gift for an epicurean or a gourmand, the book is a mix of history (Colette’s work as a culinary columnist, Camembert labels that tell the history of France, Paris’s private gourmet clubs), cooking (croque-monsieur recipes from top French chefs, types of saucisson, basic French sauces), and the cultural (quotes about food, Carambar jokes, gastronomy museums across France).

17. For the style-oriented, “Parisian Chic Encore: a Style Guide”

Eight years after model, entrepreneur and style icon Ines de la Fressange and journaist Sophie Gachet published the internationally bestselling “Parisian Chic,” the duo has released a new edition, “Parisian Chic Encore: A Style Guide” (Flammarion, 2019), with 50% new content. Parisienne style, beauty and the home are addressed, and Fressange gives her favorite addresses in Paris for where to shop, eat, stay and explore. For those not in Paris, she also lists websites to shop. Unlike most Parisian style books, this one specifically addresses how to be parisienne when you’re over 50 and your jeans and your skin aren’t quite as tight as they were when you were 20 (Fressange is 62). Through illustrations, photos and clever insight, Fressange shows that Parisian chic is doable at any age and budget.

18. For the photographer, “Willy Ronis by Willy Ronis: The Master Photographer’s Unpublished Albums”

If you don’t know Willy Ronis’ name, you know his photos. A leader in the Humanist photography, he captured some of the most famous black-and-white shots of Paris. In “Willy Ronis by Willy Ronis: The Master Photographer’s Unpublished Albums” by Willy Ronis (Flammarion, 2018), Ronis’s nearly 600 photos, complete with notes on date, subject matter and technical specifics, are published in albums curated by Ronis himself. From the Roaring 20s to post-war France, Ronis depicts the country in all of its guts and glory, from the Seine to the working-class suburbs of Paris all the way to the southern seaboard. (Read more about it here.)