What books to read to improve your French?

1 min read

A pile of books

There is nothing like a good French book for diving deep into the language and its culture. People often ask us about the best books to read to improve their French, so here is a shortlist of recommended classics!

Le Petit Prince – Antoine de Saint Exupéry

We’ll start off easy to get into the swing of things. This classic work of French literature is enjoyed by all from ages 7 to 77: The Little Prince! The story of the little blond boy who wants you to draw him a sheep is world renowned. It is simple and exciting with many timeless lessons about life. Le Petit Prince is a must in your library. And who knows? It might just make you fall in love with the French language too!

Le Petit Prince

Au Bonheur des Dames – Émile Zola

‘The Ladies’ Paradise’ is part of a series by Emile Zola. This unforgettable novel takes us into the world of a department store and in doing so, describes Parisian life between 1864 and 1869 as well as recounting a love affair. This is a rich and complex novel for those who wish to improve their French.

Au Bonheur des Dames

Les Fleurs du Mal – Baudelaire

Let’s step away from novels and concentrate on poetry, and not just any poetry, but the sulphurous ‘Flowers of Evil’ by of Baudelaire. This is a particularly scandalous collection of poems that describes death, night-time, beauty and the seasons…it’s quite the programme!

Charles Baudelaire

La Gloire de mon Père – Marcel Pagnol

The first volume of Pagnol’s autobiography, ‘My Father’s Glory’, retraces an idyllic, if romanticized childhood in Aubagne, Provence. The book depicts the hills of Provence, family life, and hunting, evoking the scent of lavender and describing the dusty dirt tracks along the way. This classic will certainly make you want to take one way ticket for the south of France.

La Gloire de mon Père
La Gloire de mon Père: image from the film by Yves Robert.


Old French classics are incontournables, but French literature is still very much alive. Find out more about the latest winner of the prestigious Goncourt Prize in this this video, and visit ILINI to practice your French with the latest French news!