Great Background Reading on France and the French

  I can hardly resist a book on France.  Many of these are quite adult in content, so be sure to preview them before handing them to your student. However, they make enjoyable background reading for the teacher-and you will be able to include snippets in your conversations with even the younger students.

A Year in Provence and many others by Peter Mayle.

Mayle is a one man production firm of books on Provence. All enjoyable. There's a video version available, with the great John Thaw playing Mayle.

A Goose in Toulouse, by Mort Rosenblum, former editor of the International Herald Tribune. A lot about food, with some great character portrayals.

The Apprentice, by Jacques Pépin, about his career as a chef in France and the U.S. This book caused me to buy all the dvds that are available of Pépin cooking with Julia Child.  A very nice man-oh! if he were a bit younger and I were single...

Any book by M.F.K. Fisher.  I discovered her The Art of Eating way back in college.  Almost anything she writes is touching, funny, and bittersweet.  On Marseille, A Considerable Town; on Dijon, Long Ago in France.

Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik.  Gropnik, a writer for the New Yorker, spent several years with his wife and young son in Paris in the 90's.  I still don't understand why he came back!

Entre Nous, by Debra Ollivier.  Funny tome on French Chic, not to be taken too seriously.

French Chic, by Susan Sommers. How to look French.  The photos need updating, but the rules are timeless.

The Parisian Woman's Guide to Style by Virginie Morana, Veronique Morana, and Philippe Sebirot. Not as fun as French Chic, but I loved the pictures of mother and daughter.

Almost French by Sarah Turnbull.  Turnbull is an Australian who marries a Frenchman.  Fun walk down Paris streets.

French Toast by Harriet Rochefort.  Another married-a-Frenchman story.  Absolutely hilarious.

Into a Paris Quartier by Diane Johnson. Johnson lives and loves St. Germain, and gives a historic and current overview of it.

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart.  Guaranteed to get you practicing piano again.

A Corner in the Marais by Alex Karmel.  Is there any quartier that hasn't had a book written about it?  Karmel buys an apartment in the Marais and manages to cover quite a bit of history and current affairs.

French Ways and Their Meaning by Edith Wharton.  Written to explain the French to American soldiers fighting in France during World War I.