The best books about Paris

Want to read up on the city of Hugo and the Da Vinci Code, Hemingway and Madeline? We ask local personalities to create their perfect Paris reading lists...

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© Rob Greig/Time Out


Sometimes, Paris seems to be a city built for readers – a magical place where no one looks out of place alone at a café with a paperback. The go-to destination for writers, artists and radical philosophers for centuries, the city is fiercely proud of its literary leanings. Notre-Dame and Victor Hugo are spoken of in the same breath, as are Hemingway and the Jardins du Luxembourg, and people can barely see a madeleine without referring to Proust. The smells from restaurant kitchens or the plight of the city's homeless invite discussion of Orwell, while the swinging shut of the iron gate to an elegant apartment building might recall Muriel Barbery.

All this can make the city resistant to change – the e-book market in France is minuscule, and Amazon's discounts are restricted to protect independent bookstores. But it all adds to the often dreamlike quality of browsing, buying and enjoying books in Paris, where paper and ink still speak of art, romance and possibility. The Paris buffs interviewed here know this only too well – and be they books for cooks or babies, you'll find plenty of inspiration in their selections.

Do you have a favourite Paris read? Let us know in the comments box below.

David Burke

David Burke's enduring fascination with the glamorous lives of expatriate American authors in Paris has shaped his own story...

Sylvia Whitman

When it comes to inspiration for Paris-based titles, the bookseller and manager of Shakespeare and Company is spoilt for choice...

Rachel Khoo

Food writer, broadcaster and culinary globetrotter, Rachel Khoo is a Londoner whose passion for patisserie led her to adopt Paris as her second home and launch a whole new career...

M. Astella Saw

Writer, editor and mum of Channel-crossing twin toddlers, M. Astella Saw knows more than most about fielding kids in Paris, London, Singapore and on the roads in between...

Jim Haynes

Long-term Paris expat Jim Haynes is a bit of a local legend, not least for the Sunday night supper club that he has been running for over 30 years...

Olivier Magny

'Mostly' a sommelier, a wine bar owner and author, Olivier Magny is a Parisian born and bred. He is the founder of O Chateau wine bar...

Isabelle Thomas

A personal stylist, author, fashion journalist and blogger, Isabelle Thomas is your go-to source for tips on how to emulate that elusive Parisian chic...

Gabrielle Roüalt de la Vigne

Co-founder of exclusive art-themed tour company Les Visites Particulières, Gabrielle Roüault de la Vigne first came to Paris to work for the Louvre...



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