One of my guilty pleasures is reading travelogues about the adventures of people who have moved to Paris or moved to another country and bought an old house that they’ve renovated and now live happily as an ex-pat. Really, this is my dream!
Of course, the most famous memoir about moving to Paris is Julia Child’s My Life in France which is such a vivid book. I suppose she was one of the first to document her acclimation to Paris, and it’s definitely one of the best. The delightful movie Julie & Julia adapted Julia Child’s book and they did such a lovely job.
Since her book, there has been an influx of people who have written about their move to Paris and all the struggles and adjustments that go along with it. I have no plans to move to Paris or France (yet!), so reading these books lets me live vicariously through the authors and gives me some tips on what to do and what not to do if I even get the opportunity to live in Paris.
Here are my Top 10 autobiographies about moving to Paris, starting with my favorite book about moving to Paris!
Caution: make sure you read these books on a full stomach or with plans to eat a delicious meal afterwards, as many of them describe the food in Paris in great detail and even include recipes!
This book is my favorite autobiography about moving to Paris because it makes moving to Paris seem like a fairy-tale. It incorporates Paris and finding the best places for chocolate, pastries, and other delicious delicacies. It’s basically a very immersive Parisian patisserie tour, and it’s perfect!
The author was offered an opportunity to work at her job’s Paris office for over a year (writing copy for Louis Vuitton!!) and she of course jumped at this chance. While living in New York, she enjoyed finding the best places for cupcakes and other sweets. When she moved to Paris, she continued her love of sweets and strove to find the best bonbons, cakes, hot cocoa, cookies, and other yummy treats. The reader goes along with her for the ride, but make sure you have plenty of French macarons and chocolate mousse nearby or you’ll be salivating while reading this book!
2) Tout Sweet Series by Karen Wheeler
This series technically isn’t about moving to Paris, but rural central western France; however, it’s one of my favorite series so I had to include it. It’s also written by a writer who works in fashion, but the author moves to France from London. She buys a house on her own in a small village after wanting a change in her life and she chronicles her renovation of an old house. Her books are very funny and her stories about her village and her neighbors really made me feel like I was right there.
This is the book that made me think I should marry a diplomat so that I might have a chance to live in Paris as well! The author moves to Paris because of her husband’s job and is often on her own in one of the best cities in the world. Her circumstances are similar to Julia Child’s, and just like Julia the author finds comfort in the joy of French food. Therefore, the title of her book is no coincidence, as it’s similar to Julia Child’s famous book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Like Julia, the author aims to teach the reader a bit about French food and its origins, and it’s absolutely fascinating.
David Lebovitz has written multiple books about his life in Paris, but this one is my favorite. How can it not be, when the author is a pastry chef and this book combines his love of pastries and witty musings on daily life in Paris!
Of the other books on this list, this is the one book that’s written by someone who lived in Paris for years, so he provides a really detailed account of not only what it’s really like to live in Paris, but also rules in Paris that confound him. It’s a nice change to read about how things are different there, and sometimes not for the better, from someone who takes it all in with good humor.
This is a more recent book, published in 2016. The author moves to Paris with her new husband and finds that Paris is lacking one of her favorite foods – kale! In fact, most Parisians do not know what she is talking about when she tried to find it in Paris. From then on, she finds a purpose and makes it her goal to bring kale to Paris. As someone who loves research and Paris, it’s a fascinating read to discover the process of what it takes to bring an elusive food into Paris.
I loved this book because the author writes about deciding to quit her job and actually planning out how to logically make it happen! She lists the steps she took to save enough money over two years to quit her job and live in Paris. In Paris, she discovers she can earn money using her love and talent for art and painting. This is a really uplifting memoir that encourages us to follow our dreams, and when we do, sometimes things will fall into place.
This is another book where the author quit her job to follow her dreams, but she now splits her time living in New York and Paris. Although her reasons for moving to Paris are sad, her journey of figuring out how to find a sense of self in Paris was very moving. Before living to Paris, she had traveled there frequently over ten years, so she provides excellent insight on the differences between being a tourist in Paris and being an expat. It’s also interesting to read about someone who lives part-time in two different countries!
This book is a collection of essays based upon the author’s life and experiences in Paris. She moved to Paris from California with her husband, and in this book she provides insights into everyday life in Paris, how it compares to other countries, debunks myths, and incorporates a lot of history about the French mentality. If you want to learn more about the difference between the way Americans and Parisians think, this book is a must!
This book is so informative, especially if you’re thinking about working or opening a business in Paris. The author discusses all the red tape he had to go through to open an American diner in Paris, and what it’s like opening a business from scratch with no background in business or management at all. Who knew that it is virtually impossible for managers to fire employees in Paris (and most likely France)? Frankly, it sounds so complicated and frustrating that it’s amazing that he persevered! I want to check out his restaurant the next time I’m in Paris!
This book is the least recent of my Top 10, but it’s probably one of the most popular. I was reading this on the train a few years ago and looked up to see someone else reading the exact same book! It really was so random since this book was published in 2001.
It’s no surprise that this book is well-written as the author is a writer for the New Yorker. One main difference between this book and the others on this Top 10 list is that he discusses what it’s like to raise a young child in Paris. It’s charmingly written and offers lots of details into being an expat in Paris.
I hope you found this list helpful in finding your next book to read about Paris! I enjoyed going through my Kindle and choosing my favorite books about moving to Paris. Hey, maybe in the future I’ll write one of my own!
Let me know if you’ve read any of the books on this list or if I left out a book that you loved! Happy reading!
Here’s the complete Top 10 list:
1.) Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas
2) Tout Sweet Series by Karen Wheeler
3) Mastering the Art of French Eating: From Paris Bistros to Farmhouse Kitchens, Lessons in Food and Love by Ann Mah
4) The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City by David Lebovitz
5) Bonjour Kale: A Memoir of Paris, Love, and Recipes by Kristen Beddard
6) Paris Letters by
7) My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home by Lisa Anselmo
8) Inspired by Paris: Why Borrowing from the French Is Better Than Being French by Jordan Phillips
9) Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson
10) Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik
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