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5 Novels in French for Intermediate Learners

Learning French through podcasts and films is definitely a good way to hear French and immerse yourself in the French culture. However, an essential aspect of our culture is literature. It is tempting to want to devour the classics of French culture in their original version. If you’ve tried it before, you know grammar in French novels often makes it difficult to get past the tenth page. But we got you covered: we have selected a few titles that can be read in French by intermediate learners.

1. Ensemble c’est tout, Anna Gavalda

Anna Gavalda is an author beloved in France for her portrayal of sensitive and touching characters. Here, she describes the meeting of four crossed destinies that will end up taming each other, getting to know each other and living under the same roof.

Camille works as a cleaning lady draws beautifully in her spare time. Philibert is a young aristocrat with a passion for history. Shy, emotional and solitary, he lives in a large apartment owned by his family. Franck is a cook, virile and tender, he loves his grandmother, Paulette, a fragile and funny old lady.

The book centers on their doubts, their sorrows. As the story unfolds, we discover how these characters get together and manage to move forward and realize their dreams. This book has been a massive success in bookstores and has been adapted for the cinema. Ensemble c’est tout is definitely part of the popular culture of the 21st century in France!

2. La Délicatesse, David Foenkinos

David Foenkinos has published several successful novels. La Délicatesse is a short novel, which will automatically stokes a great deal of enthusiasm in any of its reader. It is impossible not to identify with Nathalie.

She is young, in excellent health, doing well professionally, and in love with François... until he tragically dies, hit by a car. Desperate, Nathalie takes refuge in her work. But one day, she kisses Markus, one of her colleagues, without thinking. Markus is awkward and introverted, an atypical man, far from being Nathalie's "type", and yet... An unexpected romance is born, and raises many questions in their entourage. This novel, also adapted to the cinema, will make you think and make you smile.

3. Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

If you dreamt of reading the story of inter-generational friendship in the Paris of the 1960s, look no further: you must read Monsieur Ibrahim et les Fleurs du Coran.

Momo is one of the most outstanding characters in French literature. This thirteen year old boy is used to being left out. He has only one friend, Mr. Ibrahim, an Arab grocer and part-time philosopher. This friend will help him discover life, love and some great principles. This coming-of-age novel is very short (less than a hundred pages) and reads like Momo's monologue as a tribute to his old friend.

4. L’Étranger, Albert Camus

What a crushing classic! One of the most famous novels from the 20th century, and surprisingly the first ever published by Camus. The title character is an ordinary man suffering from the absurdity of existence and condition. Written in a simple style emulating the protagonist's inner monologue, this novel follows Meursault's journey during one year of his life. L’Étranger was an international success because of its philosophical dimension. Camus, known for his literary work, knows how to integrate very deep questions into the plot of his novel to make it a universal story. References to L’Étranger have multiplied over the years, from a Mad Men episode to a song from The Cure.

5. Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Another very short novel (93 pages), The Little Prince is a timeless classic of French literature. The story of the eponymous character, a young prince lost in search of his planet, who discovers the madness of adults, is one of the most widely read books in the world since its publication during the Second World War. And if the book continues to be so successful, it is not by chance: it knows how to touch each generation with the same strength. The magnificent watercolors contribute to make it a pleasure for the eyes.


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