Bastille Day, or French National Day, commemorates the French Revolution through the storming of the Bastille. So to commemorate freedom, equality, and brotherhood I present to you a 5… 4… 3… 2… 1 list about France.
5 Books about French Cuisine
It’s France and cooking, putting those two words together naturally evokes images of Julia Child. Her book has been a favorite cookbook of the masses for over 50 years, providing generations of home cooks with recipes and wisdom in a way only Julia can.
2) The Cooking of Southwest France by Paula Wolfert
Southwest France has a unique style that differs from the rest of France, for instance the regions love of duck fat (and other animal based fats). Wolfert offers many recipes that are not only easy for the average home cook to understand, but also stays true to the authentic cooking style of Southwest France.
Pastry is about precision and science, and as intimidating as pastry is, French pastry seems all the more arduous a task. Yet Pfeiffer uses his expertise as a pastry chef to teach home cooks the secret to mouthwatering macaroons, brioche, croissants, and of course éclairs.
4) Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking by Anthony Bourdain
Whether you love Bourdain’s more than slightly sarcastic personality or hate it, you have to admit the man can cook. Les Halles Cookbook teaches readers how to cook classic French bistro style dishes with Bourdain’s signature style.
You can’t mention French cuisine without mentioning wine. Frankel’s look at wine goes deeper than grapes and examines how the soil in different regions of France changes the taste of wines. Along with an in depth look at the soil of France, Frankel also mentions fun historical facts and travel tips for those journeying to France’s wine country.
4 French Authors to Remember
I know it is such a hard task to pick only four French authors when I can choose between Michel Foucault, Camus, Sartre, Descartes, Molière, Voltaire, and George Sand, just to name a few, but I tried.
Claim to Fame:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hugo is one of the best known French writers, even well before the 2012 movie version of Les Misèrables came out. Besides Les Misèrables, which has had several film adaptations and a musical adaptation that holds the record as the fifth longest running musical on Broadway, Hugo also wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame a book that has its own illustrious life in cultural history.
Claim to Fame:
Count of Monte Cristo
Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo has been adapted into movies, television series, plays, comics, and even anime. Something about the revenge quest of Edmond Dantès has resonated with people for over 150 years. Similarly, the Three Musketeers and there motto of “all for one, and one for all” pervades our culture even down to our candy bars. Just in case there are any questions Athos, Porthos, and Aramis are the titular three musketeers.
Claim to fame:
Phantom of the Opera
The Adventures of Rouletabille series
Earlier I mentioned that Les Misèrables held the record as fifth longest running musical, well an adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel Phantom of the Opera holds the distinct honor of being the longest running musical on Broadway. Along with Phantom, Leroux created the detective Rouletabille and several short stories as well.
Claim to fame:
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Around the World in Eighty Days
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Jules Verne was an author that was years ahead of his time. Captain Nemo and his submarine the Nautilus, From the Earth to the Moon and the space cannon Columbiad, the flying machine Go-ahead from Robur the Conqueror all showcase these incredible scientific accomplishments that were years ahead of their time. In all his stories there are epic adventures that travel through, under, and across the Earth, to space and beyond. I may be bias, but Jules Verne is a treasure.
Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
3 Sites Not to Miss
Versailles holds the distinction of being the largest château in the world, and to look at the one can easily get lost in the thousands of little details trapped inside Louis XIV grand palace. While the photographs provided in Picon’s book are wonderful but each reader can’t help but get the feeling that the photo pales in comparison to the real thing.
One of the most iconic images that people call to mind when they think of France is the Eiffel Tower. Beyond the construction of the tower, Jonnes’ book creates the atmosphere of the 1889 Exposition Universelle by showing the French’s want of a great monument and by also placing the tower in the historical context of the World’s Fair through the use of familiar characters that joined in the great festivities.
The Louvre is the world’s most visited art museum, and this book collects the over 3000 paintings housed in the museum in one fabulous book. Along with providing descriptions for four hundred noteworthy paintings, the book is also separated into four collections and presented chronologically.
2 Books about the Tour de France
Since we are just about at the halfway point of the Tour de France, I thought it best to highlight two great books on the fantastic cycling race.
2) The Story of the Tour De France by Carol McGann & Bill McGann
1 Look into France’s Deep History
The Lascaux Cave system features some of the most stunning drawings produced by early man. Since 1940 when the drawings were accidentally discovered people have been fascinated and intrigued by the many images plastered on the wall. Aujoulat details the background of the cave system and takes readers spelunking through the different chambers of the cave. I guess you can say France’s art goes back a long time, at least 17,000 year back.