It never ceases to surprise me how quickly the weeks pass during the lead up to a much needed vacation, or in my case, a much needed return to my partner and my new Parisian home. With a week to go I find myself once again completely unprepared, surrounded by impulsive purchases I was certain would fit in my suitcase, and an ultra glamourous wedding dress that somehow needs to fit into my hand luggage. When I’m feeling completely overwhelmed with things to do, there is really only one solution – make a cup of tea, curl up with a book and try to forget about all there is to do. This may not be the wisest decision, but it temporarily makes me feel better, so what the hell. The book choice is very important. If I’m stressed, I generally want nothing too serious. I have enough reading to do for my studies so anything too political, philosophical, or let’s face it, intellectual is normally not an option. I generally turn to my guilty pleasures collection – and no, I’m not talking about Fifty Shades of Grey, I’m talking about ultra-girly, glorified, delicacy filled Paris travel books. Over the years I have developed quite the collection and despite being able to almost write one myself, I still love reading them. If you are like me and love a good French travel read, I highly recommend the following five.
- Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard
I first read this book many years ago and I must admit it is still my favourite. Like many other of the books written about Paris, this is about the author’s personal experience – her own love/hate relationship with the city. I can particularly relate to Elizabeth’s experience. I find it uncanny how similar our journeys have been, it’s as if we have followed the exact same path. When she met her husband, he cooked her almost exact same dish as my future husband cooked for me; her engagement ring was practically the same as mine; we both rebelled against a traditional French wedding, and we have both embraced French culture, particularly the culinary aspects. This book is broken up with a range of traditional French recipes as well as some handed down from her American family. I’ve tested quite a few and they are very reliable and very delicious.
- The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
This is definitely the funniest book about Paris that I have read. David Lebovitz is a patisserie chef and author who has been living in Paris for quite some time now. His journey in understanding the rules and etiquette of Parisian life is told in a way that will have you loling like an idiot. Not only is it a funny read but also quite a practical guide to life in France. I particularly liked his advice on what to do when confronted with a cheese platter. This can be quite intimidating as there are so many rules, such as how to cut the cheese, who serves theirself first, to eat the rind or to not eat the rind. Overall, it has lots very good advice to ensure you avoid making a major faux pas, whilst written in a very humorous manner.
- Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, by Jennifer L Scott
Lessons from Madame Chic is a great guide for those who are fascinated by the Parisian lifestyle and the style and attitude of Parisian woman. This book covers everything from fashion to diets, to the upbringing of children. If you find yourself wondering how French woman manage to maintain their figure or how they always manage to have perfect bed hair, then you will probably find this to be an interesting read.
- Almost French, by Sarah Turnbull
It is not often that you find romantic, Paris travel books written by Australians. The story line is not unique (girl meets French man, ends up living in France for a lot longer than expected), but I can definitely relate to many of the cultural comparisons she makes throughout the book, more so than others written by Americans.
- Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate), by Amy Thomas
I’ll admit that originally I bought this book because I loved the cover. Yes, I know I shouldn’t judge a book by this element, but I figured it would look beautiful in my bookcase… and it did. That aside, this is another great Paris read. The author clearly loves French pastries and sweets and describes them in a way that leaves you drooling on the page. She also managed to score herself a dream job working in Louis Vuitton, which adds a unique spin on the books and sets it aside from the others.
Tell me readers, what are your favourite reads to get you excited for your vacation? I’m always looking for new ones to add to my list!