Mon Dieu, That’s Funny! 11 Books That Show The Funny Side to France

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Ah, France! The land of exquisite wine, mouth-watering cheese, and… laughter? Oui, mes amis, when it comes to humor, the French are not just about slapstick and mimes in striped shirts. There’s a whole literary world out there brimming with wit and hilarity, especially when it comes to books about living in France, the quirks of the French, and the sometimes bewildering, often amusing experiences of foreigners navigating this beautiful, if occasionally baffling, country.

Whether you’re looking for a gift that will make someone chuckle or just want to indulge in some Francophile fun from the comfort of your own home, get ready to embark on a journey through the funniest books about France, living in France, and the endlessly entertaining French (no really!).

A Year in the Merde

Paul West, a young British bachelor, accepts a one-year contract in Paris to establish tea rooms for an eccentric entrepreneur. Set during the Iraq invasion, this witty novel chronicles Paul’s misadventures as he navigates cultural clashes, bureaucracy, and the idiosyncrasies of French society from September 2002 to summer 2003.

Through Paul’s eyes, author Stephen Clarke offers a fresh, funny take on the quirks and charms of French culture, highlighting the differences between British and French attitudes. Insightful and hilarious, “A Year in the Merde” is a delightful read for Francophiles, expats, and anyone who’s dreamed of starting over in Paris.

A Year in Provence

When Peter Mayle and his wife trade the hustle and bustle of English life for the idyllic charm of Provence, they’re seeking the sun, vineyards, and, perhaps, a simpler way of life. What they find, however, is a series of hilarious adventures and misadventures among the locals. From truffle hunts to the foibles of French bureaucracy, Mayle’s wit and love for Provence shine through every page. It’s a light-hearted memoir that might just have you browsing real estate listings in the South of France.

Me Talk Pretty One Day

David Sedaris’s journey to learn French in Paris is anything but ordinary. With his signature sharp wit and self-deprecating humor, Sedaris shares stories that range from attempting to converse with a sadistic dentist to navigating the idiosyncrasies of the French language. It’s a book that not only explores the challenges of learning a new language but does so in a way that’s both profoundly funny and touching. Whether you’re a Francophile or a fan of good humor, this book is a must-read.

Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris

Imagine moving to Paris for love, expecting all the glamor and sophistication, and then getting a reality check – that’s “Almost French.” Sarah Turnbull’s account of her attempt to adapt to Parisian life, culture, and especially, to become almost French, is filled with laugh-out-loud moments and tender insights. From navigating the complex social codes to adopting a Parisian pooch, Turnbull’s adventures are as endearing as they are hilarious. A heartwarming, funny read for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider trying to fit in.

French Fried

Harriet Welty Rochefort dives into the deep end of French culture through its cuisine, and comes out with a story so funny and relatable, you’ll feel like you’re dining alongside her. From her first bewildering encounter with a French menu to her adventures in mastering the art of French cooking at home, Rochefort’s observations on the differences between American and French culinary habits are both insightful and hysterically funny. This book is a feast for foodies and Francophiles alike, served with a generous side of humor.

Paris to the Moon

New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik presents a series of essays about his family’s adventures in Paris, offering a witty, observant, and occasionally poignant look at life in the City of Light. From the peculiarities of Parisian gym culture to the philosophical debates sparked by a simple game of soccer in the park, Gopnik’s prose captures the essence of Parisian life with humor and warmth. It’s a delightful exploration of the everyday quirks of living in Paris, perfect for those who love their travel literature with a side of laughs.

The Sweet Life in Paris

David Lebovitz’s account of his move to Paris combines the best of both worlds: mouthwatering recipes and side-splitting tales of adjusting to Parisian life. From mastering the art of queueing in a city where lines are more of a suggestion, to the trials of making the perfect baguette at home, Lebovitz’s journey is as delicious as it is humorous. This book is a treat for anyone who loves food, France, and the folly that comes with attempting to fuse the two. It’s like a pastry: flaky on the outside, but rich and complex within.

Dial M For Merde

In this riotously funny novel, Stephen Clarke’s protagonist, Paul West, finds himself entangled in yet another absurdly amusing adventure in France. This time, it involves a mystery in the South of France, where the beaches are beautiful, the wine is splendid, and the murders are, well, inconvenient. Clarke’s sharp wit and keen eye for the absurdities of cross-cultural exchanges make “Dial M for Merde” a hilarious read that cleverly satirizes both the British and the French with love and humor. If you’re in the mood for mystery with a side of laughs, this is your ticket.

Talk to the Snail

Yes, Stephen Clarke again, because who can resist his blend of humor and insight into the French psyche? “Talk to the Snail” is a hilarious guide to understanding the French, from their unwavering belief in the superiority of French culture to the art of complaining as a form of communication. Clarke’s commandments offer a tongue-in-cheek but affectionate look at French peculiarities, making this book an essential read for anyone who’s ever been puzzled, amused, or outright baffled by the French. With Clarke as your guide, you’ll be laughing all the way to the boulangerie.

1000 Years of Annoying the French

“1000 Years of Annoying the French” by Stephen Clarke is a hysterically sharp retort to centuries of Anglo-French rivalry and misunderstandings. Clarke, with his trademark wit, takes us on a rollicking journey through history, debunking myths and poking fun at both sides with equal glee. This book isn’t just funny; it’s an eye-opener that shows how history can be twisted, and yet, somehow, Clarke manages to make this educational process uproariously entertaining. Whether it’s the Battle of Hastings or the true story behind the French Resistance, Clarke ensures you’ll never look at Anglo-French relations the same way again. It’s a brilliant blend of humor, history, and those oh-so-delicate cultural nuances that both the English and the French love to argue over. If you’ve ever chuckled over a French joke or raised an eyebrow at English eccentricities, this book will have you in stitches.

Death and Croissants

Ian Moore’s “Death and Croissants” is a delightful murder mystery that proves the French countryside isn’t just about idyllic vineyards and quaint bistros; it can also be the perfect setting for…well, a slightly less picturesque series of events. Our protagonist, Richard, a British expat running a small B&B in rural France, finds himself entangled in a comedic caper involving a mysterious woman, an even more mysterious death, and, naturally, croissants.

Moore’s background in stand-up comedy shines through in the book’s sharp dialogue and hilarious observations about life in France. This novel is a perfect mix of intrigue and humor, making it an ideal read for those who like their mysteries served with a side of laughs. It’s like Agatha Christie decided to write a farce, complete with the requisite misunderstandings, eccentric characters, and a dash of British sarcasm for good measure. If you’re in the mood for a mystery that doesn’t take itself too seriously but still delivers a compelling story, “Death and Croissants” is a must-read.

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