Christmas Ideas

For the Holidays, 10 Coffee-Table Books About la France

After perusing reams of fashion, interior design, art, and gastronomy all beautifully splashed across glossy paper, France-Amérique has selected ten coffee-table books about France available in the United States. The perfect gift for the holidays!
© 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation


The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia has one of the world’s biggest collections of art by Paul Cézanne – a total of 61 paintings and 8 works on paper. An exceptional ensemble showcased in this unique edition, which invites readers to discover the life and career of the French artist considered to be the father of modern painting.

Cézanne in the Barnes Foundation, edited by André Dombrowski, Nancy Ireson, and Sylvie Patry, Rizzoli Electa, 2021. 432 pages, 85 dollars.

Paul Cézanne, Les grandes baigneuses (The Large Bathers), 1895-1906. © 2021 The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

Chanel N°5

Boasting a unique floral bouquet and a paradoxically understated bottle, N°5 is a legendary fragrance. With this superb, two-volume set, dive head-first into the story behind the world’s best-selling perfume (supposedly one sold every 55 seconds!), created by Coco Chanel and the house’s nose Ernest Beaux a century ago this year.

Chanel No. 5: Story of a Perfume by Pauline Dreyfus, Abrams, 2021. 426 pages, 200 dollars.

Marilyn Monroe, 1953. © Bob Beerman/Modern Screen

Christo & Jeanne-Claude

Wrapping the Arc de Triomphe like a Christmas gift was a madcap dream of artist couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude (who passed away in 2020 and 2009 respectively), which came true last September. A posthumous installation immortalized in this coffee-table book, which uses sketches and archive photos to look back behind the scenes of this project originally developed in 1961.

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped: Paris, 1961-2021 by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Taschen, 2021. 128 pages, 35 dollars.

© 2021 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

French Bread

Is it possible to recreate delicious baked goods at home? It is if you follow this step-by-step, educational encyclopedia and its 100 illustrated recipes, from baguettes and Provençal fougasse to gingerbread and hamburger buns. A comprehensive work for reconnecting with ancient techniques and a major symbol of French art de vivre.

Upper Crust: Homemade Bread the French Way by Marie-Laure Fréchet, Flammarion/Rizzoli, 2021. 448 pages, 40 dollars.

© Valérie Lhomme

Hector Guimard

Design historian David A. Hanks has created an illustrated retrospective of the leading Belle Epoque architect renowned for the wrought-iron surrounds, or “aediculae,” that he designed to decorate the entrances to the Parisian subway stations. An exhibition starting in November 2022 at New York’s Cooper Hewitt, before moving to the Driehaus Museum in Chicago,  will complete this work.

Hector Guimard: Art Nouveau to Modernism, edited by David A. Hanks, Yale University Press, 2021. 232 pages, 50 dollars.

© The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago

Jacques Grange

From a private mansion in Paris to a penthouse in Manhattan, the Parisian collector Pierre Passebon discusses the latest projects by his partner, one of today’s most fashionable interior designers. The director of the Mark Hotel in New York, a former client, was right: “Jacques Grange is an assembler; he’s comfortable with all styles, and it shows.”

Jacques Grange: Recent Work by Pierre Passebon, Flammarion/Rizzoli, 2021. 376 pages, 75 dollars.

© François Halard


From brioche to strawberry cream cakes and traditional Yule logs, discover 200 recipes from the renowned Parisian caterer Gaston Lenôtre, updated by the company’s pastry chefs. With this dessert encyclopedia, you’ll soon master all the French pastry classics!

French Pastries and Desserts by Lenôtre: 200 Classic Recipes Revised and Updated, Flammarion/Rizzoli, 2021. 432 pages, 35 dollars.

© Caroline Faccioli
© Caroline Faccioli

Marin Montagut

This oh-so-chic Parisian designer and illustrator, author of the Bonjour Paris guide, revisits his favorite shops and ateliers including the Sennelier pigment manufacturer, the Verrier bespoke trimmings workshop, the Ultramod haberdashery, and the Deyrolles cabinet of curiosities. An homage to Paris and its artisans, tinkerers, and aesthetes.

Timeless Paris: Ateliers, Emporiums, Savoir Faire by Marin Montagut, Flammarion/Rizzoli, 2021. 240 pages, 40 dollars.

© Romain Ricard

Tomi Ungerer

This luxurious anthology (in English) brings together eight classic works by the French author and illustrator, including The Three Robbers, Moon Man, and Zeralda’s Ogre, published when he lived in New York in 1957-1971. It also features the more recent Otto, about a disarming teddy bear swept up in the horrors of World War II.

A Treasury of 8 Books by Tomi Ungerer, Phaidon, 2021. 320 pages, 49.95 dollars.

© Tomi Ungerer, courtesy of Phaidon

Transatlantic Chic

Louis Vuitton has created an elegant photobook in honor of French fashion photographer Jean Moral, who captured chic, carefree images of passengers on the Normandie ocean liner for Match and Harper’s Bazaar magazines in the 1930s. A trip back through time aboard the ship that rewrote the codes of luxury and sophistication à la française.

Fashion Eye: Normandie by Jean Moral, Louis Vuitton, 2021. 128 pages, 62 dollars.

© Louis Vuitton Malletier

Selection published in the December 2021 issue of France-Amérique. Subscribe to the magazine.