Dreaming of Paris: Books & Movies Inspired by the City of Love

Bonjour, mes amis!

Raise your hand if you’ve watched Netflix’s new series Emily in Paris! This show gave me such wanderlust for the City of Love that I put together this fun little blog post of some wonderful books and movies set in Paris—plus a few of my favorite spots from past trips there.

What to Read

  1. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: this beautiful piece of historical fiction depicts the life of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. This novel transports you to the City of Light in the 1920’s, with vivid imagery, evocative characters, and a perfect mix of Parisian romance and heartache. I’ve always had a fascination with Jazz Age Paris, and this book hits all the right notes.
  2. Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes: this story collection is equal parts charming and poignant, which I feel is a particular specialty of the author (who also wrote Me Befofe You). The title story “Paris for One” (which, at around 150 pages, I would deem a novella) tells the tale of Nell, a 20-something British girl, who finds herself alone in Paris for the weekend after being stood up by her boyfriend. I read this story in one sitting and very much enjoyed the characters and the magical descriptions of Paris.
  3. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George: this delightful novel is the perfect story for bookworms and romantics. The protagonist Monsieur Perdu, who owns a small book shop aboard his boat on the Seine, has this skill for “prescribing” the perfect book to heal peoples’ hearts—though ironically, his own heart has never healed, after his one great love left him suddenly many years ago.

What to Watch

Movie poster for the 1954 film Sabrina
(This photo is in the public domain. More info here).
  1. Sabrina: though I adore the 1954 version with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, I must admit I slightly prefer the 1995 version with Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford. One reason for this is because of the setting: many scenes were actually filmed on location in Paris, whereas the 1954 version used a sound stage to create Parisian backdrops (after all, nothing can substitute Paris for the real thing!). I also feel like you get a better sense of Sabrina’s experiences in Paris in the remake, and how the city changes her, makes her grow. Also, here’s a fun fact: though the popular quote “Paris is always a good idea” is often attributed to Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, it was Julia Ormond who actually said it in the remake!
  2. Paris, Je T’aime: This movie is actually a series of vignettes (AKA short films). Some of the movie is in English and some of it’s in French, and each vignette has its own characters and unique stories. One’s first experience watching it can be a bit perplexing because it’s an unconventional form of storytelling, but I promise you that every time I see it, I truly enjoy it more and more. This film is not only a love letter to the city of Paris, it is a love letter to love in all its many forms.
  3. Midnight in Paris: Owen Wilson stars as an American writer on vacation in Paris with his fiancée (played by Rachel McAdams). His soon-to-be-wife doesn’t understand his fascination with Jazz Age Paris (honestly, she doesn’t seem to understand him at all). One night as he strolls through the city, he finds himself magically transported back to that era, mingling with famed authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway. His experiences with them end up dramatically changing his perspective and, in turn, his life.

A Few Favorite Spots in Paris

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company is a small, iconic bookstore that’s been visited by world-renowned authors over its many years in business, so if you’re a book-enthusiast like me, this is a must stop while in Paris. It’s pretty cramped and crowded inside, and they don’t allow photos, but it’s definitely worth perusing this famous shop.

Monet’s Water Lilies

Of course museums like the Louvre and the D’Orsay are vast and impressive, but it is the Musée de l’Orangerie that will always have my heart. The reason for this is my love for Monet’s Water Lilies, which reside there in two oval-shaped rooms specifically designed for them. These immense works of art have such a dreamlike quality that I find to be so peaceful and inspiring.

Jardin des Tuileries

The Tuileries Garden is magnificent—or, as the French say, magnifique. Though it was once a palace garden, it became a public park after the French Revolution and is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll, or to simply enjoy the sunshine and people watch.

Though like many of you, I’m dreaming of traveling abroad again next year, there remain so many uncertainties because of Covid-19. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my recommendations for ways to “visit” Paris via the pages of a book or a TV. The beret, of course, is optional 😉

3 thoughts on “Dreaming of Paris: Books & Movies Inspired by the City of Love

  1. Brett and I just started watching Emily in Paris yesterday 🙂
    To be honest I think both of us are just there for the scenery…
    Sabrina I haven’t seen in a long time!

    Liked by 1 person

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