The Michelin Red Guide is the definitive hotel and restuaraunt guide to France. Updated each year and with considerable practical benefits, it deserves its 'essential' reputation. The listings are symbol-based with short and helpful descriptions in English.
Austrian master Zweig applies his considerable gifts of observation and description to the life of Marie Antoinette, weaving a beautiful biography against the epic backdrop of revolutionary France. First published in 1933, this remains a favourite examination of the young Queen.
Philips Oltermann's family transplanted from Germany to the UK in 1996, when he was 16. 15 years later, he has decided to look at the history of the Anglo-German relationship, a subject he is uniquely qualified to approach. Taking as his starting point 8 historical encounters, he chronicles the startling, often hilarious series of misunderstanding and collusions that have taken us from being wary of one another's cuisine to all-out war, and back again to a convivial, if sometimes grudging, respect.
Fans of Wolf Hall will find this remarkable dramatisation of the French Revolution as believable, gripping and wonderfully written as her recent Booker winner. Mantel describes a time of unimaginable horror through the eyes of three pivotal, real-life figures: Georges-Jacques Danton, Maximilien Robespierre and Camille Desmoulins.
In the utterly believable and at times achingly moving voice of Willie Dunne, an 18 year old Dubliner sent to the Trenches in 1914, Sebastian Barry describes the true horror of the trenches and the dilemmas of an Irish boy as he weighs his allegiance to British victory with his personal attachment to Irish Republicanism. An outstanding, emotional and important book, we couldn't recommend it more highly.
A delightful little volume. From Colette at Montmartre, to Roger Grenier in the Places Des Fetes, this excellent collection of stories describes the city in a way no guidebook ever could. A treat for the Eurostar, certainly.
This unique fusion of map and guide is lightweight, easy-to-use, enormously popular and frankly essential. Outlines the highlights in a dozen or so pages, dedicating the rest to mapping of the highest quality. Be sure to carry one.
Dark, intoxicating, pungent, bewitching: Suskind's incredible novel is all of this and more. Abandoned as a baby on the filthy streets of 18th century Paris, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille grows up to be a sublime parfumier who will stop at nothing to attain the scent he desires most: that of an innocent young virgin.
A brilliant collection of Paris writing comprising dozens of excerpts arranged under headings such as 'Le menu', 'Sex in the city' and 'Cities of the dead'. Featured writers range from Proust and Flaubert to Jan Morris and Julian Barnes. Perfect for dipping in and out of at leisure.
This was the first of Vargas's terrific Commissaire Adamsberg novels to be translated, and this richly evocative series of chilling Parisian thrillers deserves your immediate attention. Here our hero investigates mysterious graffiti appearing on the doors of what appear to be plague victims, while retired Breton sailor Joss Le Guern sets himself up as a modern-day town crier. Both men become drawn into a sinister gothic murder mystery of the first order.
Perhaps the 21st century's most significant publishing event thus far was the discovery of this lost manuscript by one of interwar France's finest novelists. Amidst the chaos of occupation Nemirovsky set out to write her own 'War and Peace' before she inevitably fell prey to the Nazi war machine. Chronicling first a group of Parisians and second the inhabitants of a small French town, the novel, though strictly unfinished, teems with wonderful characters and with moments of great humanity as well as evil. Perceptive and remarkable, this is essential reading.
Based on eyewitness accounts and contemporary documents, Hastings has rewritten the accepted history of Operation Overlord - the plan to free Europe from German occupation. From both Allied and German perspectives, it comes the nearest to a comprehensive account of the D-day landings and the following campaign.
Durrell's last book is a tribute to Provence, where he lived for 30 years. Part memoir, travelogue, history and poetry collection, it is a highly personal and unusual work in which he captures as brilliantly as ever the spirit of the landscape.
The absolute classic of relocation writing and one that inspired a hundered imitations, Mayle's beguiling and much-loved book paints an idyllic portrait of ex-pat life in the Luberon, though one that is not without its hilarious scrapes.
Cursory practical information plays a minor role in what is an intelligent and impeccably-researched cultural companion, with well-written entries on the many artistic and architectural highlights of Provence.
Two cult French classics in one volume. Sagan was still a precocious teenager when Bonjour Tristesse made her a literary superstar in 1954. It tells of Cecile, a young girl who takes it upon herself to interfere in her father's love life while conducting her own summer affair, while 'A Certain Smile' follows a similarly autobiographical Dominique as she embarks on a tryst with an older man. Both novellas are delightfully witty and playfully amoral.
Sebald's last book, published posthumously, is a collection of essays, most notably four pieces of characteristically enigmatic travelogue inspired by time spent in Corsica. Devotees of his matchless prose and visitors to the island with a literary leaning will find much to admire here.