Summer Reads

If you are getting ready for a long-awaited summer getaway to France, it’s time to pick out some tip-top holiday literature. And if the read relates to the French region that you are visiting, even better! Here is a run down of some terrific titles and beach books set in France’s favourite holiday spots.

In Languedoc


Kate Mosse, Orion Books, �7.99

If you haven’t yet read this international best-seller, then a visit to Languedoc is the perfect time to do so. The story shifts between medieval and contemporary France to link two heroines. In modern times, amateur archaeologist Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons surrounded by mysterious symbols during a dig near Carcassonne. Eight hundred years earlier in the same city, during the persecution of the Cathars, Ala�s Pelletier receives a book and ring which must be kept safe. It’s a real page-turner, with Mosse creating an evocative portrait of Languedoc past and present. The book is the first in a trilogy, followed by Sepulchre and Citadel, which is out on 13 September.

Other books set in Languedoc: The Winter Ghosts, Kate Mosse; Narrow Dog to Carcassonne, Terry Darlington; The Treasure of Rennes-le-Ch�teau, Bill Putnam and John Edwin Wood.

In Provence

Most Read

Return to the Olive Farm

Carol Drinkwater, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, �7.99

In the Olive Farm series the actress Carol Drinkwater described how she came to take over and restore a delapidated estate deep in the Proven�al countryside. In the latest instalment, the FRANCE Magazine columnist returns to her farm and husband Michel after 16 months away researching the history of the olive tree. She receives disturbing news about her honey bees, forcing her to make difficult decisions involving the farm and wider community. Told with warmth and sincerity, Carol’s story will resonate with anyone who shares her love of rural Provence and cares for the natural world.

Other books set in Provence: A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle; Cherries from Chauvet’s Orchard, Ruth Phillips; The Lantern, Deborah Lawrenson.

In Paris

Paris Revealed: The Secret Life of a City

Stephen Clarke, Bantam Press, �10.99

Through his best-selling novels and FRANCE Magazine column, Clarke has covered many facets of French life. Having lived in Paris for many years, he is especially knowledgeable when it comes to revealing the side of the capital that visitors rarely see. This witty guide gives advice on the real way to navigate Paris, from proper m�tro etiquette to how to find an apartment without ruining your bank balance. In doing so, he delves deep into the city’s psyche, tearing down the tourist smokescreen to reveal its fiery character.

Other books set in Paris: Hunting and Gathering, Anna Gavalda; Stuff Parisians Like, Olivier Magny; Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik; Parisians, Graham Robb; The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery.

In Picardy

A Very Long Engagement

S�bastien Japrisot, Vintage, �8.99

This romantic war novel begins in January 1917 on the Somme battlefield, where five French soldiers are condemned for cowardice and left to die in no-man’s-land. Among the soldiers is Manech, whose fianc�e Mathilde refuses to accept the official record of his ‘execution’ and determines to uncover the truth.

Other books set in Picardy: Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks; A Sunday in Picardy, Ian Jones; The Missing of the Somme, Geoff Dyer.

In the Loire

Five Quarters of the Orange

Joanne Harris, Black Swan, �7.99

The author of Chocolat serves up another deliciously rich story garnished with culinary intrigue. After many years away, Framboise returns to the village by the River Loire where she grew up during the wartime occupation. Concealing her identity, Framboise uses her mother’s recipe books to start a cr�perie, but secrets from the past threaten her new life.

Other books set in the Loire: The Castle Made for Love, Barbara Cartland; An Absence of Angels, Julie Harris.

In the C�vennes

The Tapestry

of Love, Rosy Thornton. Headline Review, �7.99

Divorcee Catherine escapes her mundane existence in England and opens a business as a seamstress in the rugged C�vennes. As she faces bureaucracy and bad weather, she becomes intrigued by a handsome neighbour in this gently unfolding story that is testimony to falling in love with life in the French mountains.

Other books set in the C�vennes: Travels with a Donkey in the C�vennes, Robert Louis Stevenson; Trespass, Rose Tremain; Virgin Blue, Tracy Chevalier.

In Dordogne

Grape Expectations

Caro Freely, Summersdale, �8.99

Many wine lovers may daydream about glugging back a glass or two from a vintage produced by their own vines, but Caro and Sean make it reality. They cannot resist investing in a ten-hectare vineyard and 18th-century farmhouse in the heart of Bergerac wine country, yet as the couple try to transform the crumbling winery into a successful business, some unanticipated challenges create plenty of thirsty work. Exploring the pleasures of French food and drink, this light-hearted story is sweet and playful, best enjoyed over a glass of chilled white wine.

Other books set in Dordogne: Deadly Slipper, Michelle Wan; Murder in Lascaux, Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden; The Caves of P�rigord, Martin Walker.

In Limousin

Je t’aime � la Folie

Michael Wright, Bantam Press, �7.99

If you were a fan of C’est la Folie, in which Wright told how he left London for life in rural France, then the second part of his comical memoirs will not disappoint. After spending two years adapting to life alone in deepest Limousin, Wright decides it’s high time for a bit of romance. After several unsuccessful attempts at wooing, he is almost ready to admit defeat until a chance encounter and the help of a bumptious Labrador give him hope that he has finally found love.

Other books set in Limousin: Bon Courage! A French Renovation in Rural Limousin, Richard Wiles.

In Aquitaine

French Secrets

Roisin McAuley, Little Brown, �7.99

After falling for the charming Hugo Lancaster, wine merchant and ch�teau owner, Honor Brady decides to follow her heart to the famous wine region of Entre-Deux-Mers. Here, Hugo is selling rare wines from a legendary vintage that has only recently been discovered, after being hidden during the Second World War. As Honor starts sweeping away the cobwebs that have gathered in the wine cellars, she exposes some dark secrets from that period. Gironde’s famous vineyards are revealed as never before in this juicy saga which is full of convincing and original characters.

Other books set in Aquitaine: Duchess of Aquitaine: A Novel of Eleanor, Margaret Ball; The Crowded Grave, Martin Walker; Bordeaux Housewives, Daisy Waugh.

In the Pyr�n�es


Julia Stagg, Hodder, �7.99

Set in a commune in the stunning d�partement of Ari�ge, this novel centres on the trials and tribulations of Paul and Lorna, a young British couple hoping to open a restaurant in their favourite holiday spot. Yet their expat enthusiasm is met with equally fervent opposition from their new French neighbours, who are unreceptive to the newcomers and their calls for change. The couple are going to have to rustle up seriously impressive recipes if they want to win over the close-knit community.

Other books set in the Pyr�n�es: The Hairy Hikers, David Le Vay; The Parisian’s Return, Julia Stagg; A Piano in the Pyrenees, Tony Hawks.

In Burgundy

The Vintner’s Luck

Elizabeth Knox, Vintage, �7.99

For lovers of period drama, Burgundy offers an evocative backdrop for some compelling historical stories. This passionate and mystical tale is set in a small Burgundian village at the time of Napol�on. It is the summer of 1808 and Sobran Jodeau, the title character, is musing over dilemmas of the heart when he encounters Xas, a beautiful angel, in a vineyard. Convinced that the angel is a good omen, Sobran listens attentively to her advice and soon they form an enduring and bewitching relationship. Yet a celestial and mortal connection can never run smoothly for long, and their fateful meeting is sure to end in heartbreak.

Other books set in Burgundy: Long Ago in France, M.F.K. Fisher; King Arthur’s French Odyssey, Marilyn Floyde.