Books to transport yourself to the summits of the Alps and Mercantour

Climb the cliffs of Mont-Blanc, walk the paths of the Mercantour—experience the French Alps and countrysides of France from home (while waiting to come in person) thanks to the magic of literature! Settle down and immerse yourself in Francefr's book club: today, we're recommending two novels that explore about mountain travel and inner quests.

Climb Mont Blanc's summit, crampons on feet and ropes fastened

Roger Frison-Roche, First on the Rope (Premier de Cordée) (1942)

When you grow up in Chamonix, at the foot of the French Alps, becoming a mountain guide is a dream only the bravest dare dream. Jean Servettaz is one of them, and his son, Pierre, yearns to follow in his father's footsteps. Set in the 1950s, the pair traverses post-War Brévent, Les Drus, and the Aiguille Verte, on dangerous climbs up the vertiginous cliffs and along the paths that form this legendary Mont-Blanc massif. These are landscapes that the author knows by heart, since he has climbed these heights since he was 17 years old. First on the Rope is an unmissable novel for all mountain lovers, a memory of a time when the equipment was rudimentary but the wills were fierce.

Available in English translations

Ponder the paths of Mercantour

Sylvain Tesson, sur les chemins noirs (On the Black Paths) (2016)

Writer-traveler, adventurer, mountaineer-acrobat—there are many ways to describe Sylvain Tesson. His books typically narrate his adventures as a backpacker (The Walk in the sky: 5,000 km on foot through the Himalayas; The Ride of the Steppes, 3,000 km on horseback through Central Asia), Sylvain Tesson's intimate 2016 novel On the Black Paths is different. After a serious fall (he fell from a 10-meter [32 foot] high roof), the writer relearns how to live, walk and take control of his body. He decides to travel France on foot, alone, from Mercantour in Provence to the Cotentin coast in Normandy to relearn himself as well. Crossing the Cévennes, the Massif Central, the Touraine before reaching his destination, Sylvain Tesson takes us through the meanders of rural France, and on his own healing paths.