Alas, there’s no European vacation in the cards for me this summer, and I’ll be watching the Summer Olympics on TV from the comfort of my couch in Brooklyn. But four new books offer the vicarious thrill of a Paris sojourn, all focused on outsiders who find themselves both entranced and bewildered by the City of Light.

Chicago native Jane Bertch arrived in Paris in 2006, not on a vacation or a journey of self-discovery but for a banking job. As she recounts in The French Ingredient: Making a Life in Paris, One Lesson at a Time (Ballantine, April 9), it took a while to assimilate in this rule-bound city—partly with the help of co-workers and a French boyfriend—and then to realize that her true calling was the founding of a French cooking school. La Cuisine was conceived as a haven for “aspiring home cooks looking to sharpen their skills while meeting likeminded people.” Our reviewer calls it an “inspiring story that will appeal to foodies and budding entrepreneurs alike.”

Ruth Reichl—legendary restaurant critic, magazine editor, and author—is a real foodie, of course, but in her second novel she sends a fictional character named Stella St. Vincent to Paris in 1982 for an education in dining, fashion, romance, and other of life’s pleasures. Our critic found the plot of The Paris Novel (Random House, April 30) “wildly overcaffeinated,” and the characters “not even close to real people,” but the writing about food and wine, unsurprisingly, to be “almost worth the price of admission.” Plus, as she recently revealed on the Taste podcast, every meal that Stella eats in the novel is based on one that Reichl herself has experienced in Paris over the years.

Simon Kuper, a U.K. journalist,  came to Paris in 2001 and bought a flat for £60,000 with plans to crash for a few weeks and then rent it out. Instead he wound up staying on, marrying an American woman, and raising two children. Impossible City: Paris in the 21st Century (PublicAffairs, June 4) is his perceptive and droll account of life there, puzzling over the rigidly insular ways of the locals and delighting, as one must, over the food and drink. He also had a front-row seat to the Covid-19 pandemic as it unfolded in “the world’s most compact city.” Our reviewer calls it “an enjoyable, balanced read.”

The title of Glynnis MacNicol’s I’m Mostly Here To Enjoy Myself: One Woman’s Pursuit of Pleasure in Paris (Penguin Life, June 11) says it all: It’s August 2021, and the 46-year-old author has fled New York after a year of pandemic-enforced solitude to find romance—or at least sex—during a four-week stay in the French capital. It’s not her first such visit; she’ been coming every year for several years and has gathered around her a gang of single women friends (think Sex and the City) who encourage her to download the dating app Fruitz, where MacNicol creates a “watermelon” profile: “no seeds attached.” Our critic calls it a “fun memoir filled to the brim with humor and vulnerability.”

Tom Beer is the editor-in-chief.