France: Travelogue, History, & Music (Part 2)

France: Travelogue, History, &  Music (Part Deux)


Before my second trip back to France, I did some reading before I went. For my listening pleasure, I have a small collection of French music at home.

Below are a few books and music CDs I’ve enjoyed about France.



  • History of France by Lucien Bély, English edition trans. by Angela Caldwell. Concise history of France until recent times by a French history professor at the Sorbonne. I bought the English translation in France 8 years ago.
  • The Road from the Past by Ina Caro.  Written in 1996, Caro writes about a travelogue about French history.  Her journey (with her husband, noted biography Robert Caro) begins in southern France and progresses through the ages.  She also offers some of her local experiences in the places she visits.
  • Paris to the Past by Ina Caro.  Companion to her previous book, Caro continues her time travels through day trips with Paris as a starting point.
  • The Greater Journey by David McCullough.  Best seller about Americans who went to Paris in the 19th century and how it influenced their career and later lives. It provides a fascinating history of Paris as well.
  • Discovery of France by Graham Robb.  In the 19th century, France was an unknown country to its own citizens. What guidebooks available for foreigners didn’t provide helpful information. French wasn’t widely spoken outside of Paris; locals spoke local dialects and regional languages.  Robb explores how the country came to be mapped out; he took a cycling trip as part of researching this book.


  • Rough Guide to the Music of France–Musical tour of France with tracks in regional languages. The country has a rich heritage.  To hear the sounds of Paris, Rough Guide offers 3 CDs on the city–scroll down a little to “Related Albums” on the right side of the page.
  • A Night in France–Part of the “A Night in” series, this CD features contemporary music.
  • Putumayo Presents: Québec–If you go to St-Malo, you’ll see the Québec flags flying there on the ramparts.  What’s the connection?  Explorer Jacques Cartier is the town’s native son.  Although the CD is no longer available on the Putumayo site, you may be able to find it in stores.

~ Elisa Babel ~ DC Public Library


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