10 Great French Novels to Learn French for All Levels


Last Updated: August 31, 2022

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Reading is a true source of pleasure and often a relaxing hobby to undertake. It can also be a very handy learning tool to practice your French and put your comprehension skills to good use.

Reading books in French is a fantastic way to complement your studies by increasing your vocabulary and improving your understanding of written grammatical rules. While you are learning new things, you also get the enjoyment of reading a nice book during your free time through the day or before you head to bed at night.

The great thing about reading books, similar to watching television series, is that you get to know the characters and follow an enjoyable storyline. This can be perfect motivation to continue reading and continually learn more vocabulary along the way.

best french novel learn

Reading is self-directed and you can choose your own pace, which means you have as much time as you need to really understand what is happening in the text.

There is a wide range of French literature available for all different stages of learning and different reading interests. This article outlines some great books in French that might tickle your fancy when it comes to reading in French.

Many of these books are available online at websites such as amazon.com, or can be found at large, international book shop companies. Or you can even try your luck at a secondhand book store and see what you can find there. Allow me to help you find the right books in French so you can practice your listening and reading comprehension!

1. Le Petit Nicolas de René Goscinny

le petit nicolas roman novel

Source: 1max2coloriages.fr

Difficulty: Easy -Intermediate.

This book series tells stories of what childhood was like in France in the 1950s. Nicolas and his school friends embark on many adventures together. The storylines are meant for children so they have simple sentence structure, but are amusing and humorous at the same time.

2. Mon Père est Femme de Ménage de Saphia Azeddine

mon pere est femme de menage novel

Source: amazon

Difficulty: Easy - Intermediate

This is a short novel that is fun to read, telling a coming-of-age story and the struggles faced in adolescence. This novel has also being adapted into a movie, making it ideal for learners of French to read the text and watch the adaptation to further develop reading and listening comprehension skills.

3. Le Petit Prince de Antoine Saint-Exupery

little prince novel

Source: laboutiquedupetitprince

Difficulty: Easy - Intermediate

A true French classic in terms of literature for children, Saint-Exupery writes a charming story that intrigues children through the descriptions of characters, but also enchants adults in the ideas explored throughout. This is a fantastic book for all ages and all levels of French, and one that can be enjoyed time and time again.

4. Ensemble c’est Tout de Anne Gavalda

Ensemble c’est Tout de Anne Gavalda

Source: fnac

Difficulty: Intermediate - Advanced

Not only is this a famous film featuring Audrey Tautou, but it is also a charming book to read. This novel has been translated into many languages as the story of an anorexic girl struggling to fit into society has touched people all over the world. The writing style and the dialogue are modern and pleasing to read.

5. Que serais-je sans toi? de Guillaume Musso

Que serais-je sans toi de Guillaume Musso

Source: guillaumemusso

Difficulty: Intermediate - Advanced

A love story in the language of love, this novel is a great one for learners of French to read. With easy to follow vocabulary and an emotionally invested story line about choosing who to love, this story is sure to please French learners of any age.

6. Où on va, papa? de Jean-Louis Fournier

Où on va, papa de Jean-Louis Fournier

Source: renaud-bray

Difficulty: Easy - Intermediate

This is the touching tale of a man who unexpectedly becomes a single father when he is reunited with his long lost son. Through well-structured narrative and easy vocabulary, the story of how he learns to become a father is told. Definitely one of the French books for beginners!

7. La Petite Fille de M. Linh

La Petite Fille de M. Linh

Source: unchocolatdansmonroman

Difficulty: Easy - Intermediate

A wartime historical story, this tells the tale of a man who is forced to leave his village with only the clothes on his back. Even more, he leaves holding a small baby, whose parents died in the war. With touching word choices and simple sentence structure, this is an intriguing story to read about the long journey of a man with a little girl.

8. L’étranger de Albert Camus

L’étranger de Albert Camus

Source: austintoutvabien

Difficulty: Easy - Intermediate

This book is one for lovers of literature who want to read something philosophical and insightful. Camus questions society of 1955 and the values of the time through the character Meursault. The vocabulary and language itself is not challenging, but there are many deep themes that will make you think more about the text.

9. Les Ames Grises de Philippe Claudel

Les Ames Grises

Source: amazon

Difficulty: Intermediate

I categorize this in French books for beginners! Featuring themes such as death, war, and love, this book is not the emotionally-taxing, heavy reading material you might expect it to be. In fact, the uncomplicated descriptions and the thoroughly fascinating way it is written is great for beginner French learners.

10. Voyage au Pays des Arbres de J.M.G Le Clézio


Source: ac-grenoble

Difficulty: Intermediate

Here the story follows a little boy who dreams of life in the forest and living among the trees. This is a great narrative to awaken the imagination and learn some interesting new French vocabulary along the way.


When it comes to reading books in French, always remember that it is a challenging task to read a book in a new language. Everyone has a different type of reading style and it is important to remember that you need to find a way to read that works for you as an individual.

Some ways that you can make reading in French easier for yourself include:

  • Read the summary of the book in English or French before starting.
  • Make notes as you read about important characters or storylines.
  • Read a bilingual book with the English version on one side of the page and the French on the other.
  • Read the English version of the book first, and then the French version.
  • Read a book in French that you are already familiar with so you know the storyline and what is going to happen.
  • Select some fun picture story books to read in French.

This is a great reading resource for learning French, too!

My French Reading and Listening Course is a great tool to help you. Learn more about it below!

About the author 

Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Instagram

  • Merci, Frederic, pour cette bonne liste de livres. Je voudrais utiliser un livre, comme Le Petit Nicolas en classe avec mes étudiants. Avez-vous des idées pour moi de guider les étudiants avec des questions et des projets pour mieux comprendre les themes?

  • Where can one purchase these books? I teach Le Petit Prince in French 1V and the Spanish version in my Spanish 1V class!! Merci

  • I hold my French book in my hands and put my Ipad in my lap, set to a dictionary site like Reverso, Wordreference, or Larousse. I can look up critical words without too much trouble.

    Thanks for the list. I am a member of a French-language book club in New Orleans and we are always looking for new titles.

  • Merci, Frédéric. Il y en a que j’ai déjà lus, mais d’autres pas encore. M. Camus, je rencontrai bientôt l’étranger.

  • Merci, Frédéric!

    This is my reading list for the summer 🙂 I’ve made it through Mon père est femme de ménage (very similar to Kiffe kiffe demain that I read with my juniors), Voyage aux pays des arbres (fun for lower levels!), La petite fille de Monsier Linh (too too sad! But I might use several chapters with my AP students). I already use L’étranger. Petit Nicolas, and Petit Prince in my classes, hooray! I also read 7 ans après by Musso and the first three chapters will work well with the AP themes! Thank you so much for sharing and if you’d like to see how I would use some of these books in the AP classroom, check out my blog 🙂 Merci!

  • I would like to recommend ‘La trilogie des jumeaux’ from Agota Kristof. The book has short sentences and it is an incredible good book. I read it with an English translation next to it, just in case I would miss something.

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