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Destination Reads: The Best Holiday Reads to Take to France

Posted on 14th August 2018 by Martha Greengrass

In the first in a series of articles recommending our choice of the best reading for every destination, we bring together our favourite reads for a French holiday: Real tales of intrigue and scandal on the Riviera, recollections of the good life in Provence, tales of romance and desire from the banks of the Seine to the Lion D'or and expert guides to Gallic history. Vive la France! 

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Peter Mayle and his wife did what most of us only imagine doing when they made their long-cherished dream of a life abroad a reality: throwing caution to the wind, they bought a glorious two hundred year-old farmhouse in the Luberon Valley and began a new life. This work lets you discover the joys of French rural living.
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Selected as our inaugural Rediscovered Classic in June 2015, Bonjour Tristesse tells the story of Cecile, who leads a carefree life with her widowed father and his young mistresses until, one hot summer on the Riviera, he decides to remarry - with devastating consequences.
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From the bestselling author of After the Crash ('a novel so extraordinary it reminded me of reading Stieg Larsson for the first time' - Sunday Times) comes a thriller about a missing masterpiece. This is the story of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another and three women, each with a secret and a connection to the mysterious, rumoured painting of Black Water Lilies.
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The Riviera Set is the story of the group of people who lived, partied, bed-hopped and politicked at the Chateau de l'Horizon near Cannes, over the course of forty years from the time when Coco Chanel made southern French tans fashionable in the twenties to the death of the playboy Prince Aly Khan in 1960.
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A delightfully bittersweet tale about the distance one man will travel for the sake of love. Presiding over a ‘literary apothecary’ on the Seine, a man masks the pain in his own heart by prescribing the books to heal the wounds of others. Then a revelation from the past prompts him to up-anchor and begin a singular journey of discovery toward a resolution that is genuinely life affirming.
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Three secrets. Two women. One Grail... July 1209: in Carcassonne a 17-year-old girl is given a mysterious book by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. July 2005: Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons in a forgotten cave in the French Pyrenees. Between these women lies the mystery of the secret of the labyrinth and what it will cost to keep it safe.
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A definitive insight into France's history since the First Revolution and Napoleon's demise at Waterloo in 1815. Bestselling historian and political commentator Jonathan Fenby provides an expert and riveting journey through this period as he recounts and analyses the extraordinary sequence of events questioning what this nation, which considers itself exceptional, really stood - and stands - for.
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After a vote by their classmates on Facebook, Mireille, Astrid, and Hakima are officially the three ugliest girls in their school, but does that mean they're going to sit around crying about it? Well--yes, a bit, but not for long. Climbing aboard their bikes, the trio sets off on a summer road trip to Paris. Their goal? A garden party with the French president.
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From the author A Train in Winter comes the extraordinary story of a French village that helped save thousands from the Gestapo during World War II. Caroline Moorehead has sought out and interviewed many of the people involved. Theirs is a story of courage and determination, of a small number of heroic individuals and of what can be done when people join together to oppose tyranny.
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A haunting historical novel set in France between the two world wars about love and desire from the author of the international bestseller, Birdsong. Mid-1930s, Northern France. At the hotel, Anne meets the cultured, rich and married Hartmann and begins an affair with the married Great War veteran, revealing her secrets, fears and hopes to him with life-shattering consequences.
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An account of the tumultuous nine weeks in which the famous nineteenth century artists Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin shared a house in the small French town of Arles. It is an exploration of a fragile friendship, art, madness, genius behind a shocking act of self-mutilation that the world has sought to explain.
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When Meaulnes first arrives at the local school in Sologne, everyone is captivated by his good looks, daring and charisma. But when Meaulnes disappears for several days, and returns with tales of a strange party at a mysterious house - and his love for the beautiful girl hidden within it, Yvonne de Galais - it becomes clear that his life has been changed forever.
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On her fortieth birthday Jacqueline Yallop built a sty in rural south-west France. She and her husband Ed had decided to turn their Aveyron cottage and garden into a small holding. They bought two pigs to rear and slaughter. They will raise, then kill and eat their pigs. Or so they keep telling themselves. The reality is so very different from the romantic dreams of two stubborn English writers
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Tarquin Winot - hedonist, food obsessive, ironist and snob - travels a circuitous route from the Hotel Splendide in Portsmouth to his cottage in Provence. Along the way he tells the story of his childhood and beyond through a series of delectable menus, organized by season. But this is no ordinary cookbook, and as we are drawn into Tarquin's world, a far more sinister mission slowly reveals itself
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Self-confessed loafer Tim Moore, seduced by the speed and glamour of the biggest annual sporting event in the world, sets out to cycle the Tour de France. All 3,630km of it. The result is a laugh-out-loud funny and highly entertaining account of how the great ride would feel when embarked on by an amateur.
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