5 French travel destination for bookworms

Les Deux Magots, photo by Chris Pomeroy

It’s difficult not to enjoy the historical adventure stories about musketeers, queens and kings written by Alexandre Dumas, the heartbreaking novels of Victor Hugo of the Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame fame, and many other exciting tales penned by French authors. And since the best writers write about what they know, various places in France are a huge part of these stories. Even non-French authors have chosen France as the settings of their novels, so for a bookworm traveler in France there are many places to see. Add to the mix the favorite haunts of writers who lived and wrote in France, and you can draw up a huge list of places that will delight literature lovers. Here are 5 French travel destinations for bookworms.

Les Deux Magots cafe, Paris

Paris has always been a center for culture, and writers from all over the world have spent time here. One of the most prolific times for French literature and philosophy, the 20’s and 30’s, have attracted a lot of prominent literary figures to the capital. Camus, Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre, and even Picasso spend many hours talking and drinking in Les Deux Magots, a cafe which is still associated with literature and has been awarding prizes for writers since 1933.

Gascony

photo by Jibi44

Gascony, the birthplace of d’Artagnan, one of the main characters in Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, doesn’t exist as such anymore. What used to be Gascony before the French Revolution is now divided between Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées. Gascony’s culture, language and cuisine were related to Basque Country, and even today you can notice certain particularities to this area. Cyrano de Bergerac, another famous literary character, also hailed from Gascony, and the region is known for its douceur de vivre (sweetness of life), good wine and beautiful medieval towns.

Paris Sewers Museum

The Paris Sewer Museum is an interesting sights even for those who couldn’t care less about Victor Hugo and Les Misérables, but those who like the novel will most definitely enjoy a peek into the dark bowels of the city. Hugo wrote that ‘Paris has another Paris under herself; a Paris of sewers’, and even now, the huge sewer system spanning under the city looks like an abandoned city itself.

Grasse

Fragonard Perfume Factory, photo by Bob Hall

A recent book set in France (which also spawned a successful movie) is Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by German writer Patrick Suskind. The novel is a feast for the sense, but especially for the nose. The vivid descriptions of perfumes and of medieval Grasse only make a visit to the perfume capital of France even better. It’s true that prosperous Grasse bears little resemblance to its medieval counterpart, but perfume is still weaved into all parts of life in this city.

Provence

Nobody needs much encouragement to go to Provence, but if you have read any of Peter Mayle’s memoirs of his first year in Provence, or hist novel A Good Year (also turned into a beautifully shot movie), then you are in for a treat. Provence is described in loving detail in the books, and it is exactly the kind of gentle, dreamy and quirky place you will find in the south of France if you decide to visit this wonderful region – it’s one of the best destinations in France, and definitely one of the top 5 French travel destinations for bookworms.

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