French Short Stories

These stories were written by French authors. I believe all the selections were originally written in French and later translated into English.

The page only includes one Guy de Maupassant story.

Short Stories from France

A Passion in the Desert | Honore de Balzac

A captured French soldier escapes but gets stranded in the desert, and encounters a panther.

Read “A Passion in the Desert”

The Mysterious Mansion | Honore de Balzac

A man’s landlady tells him part of the story of an old dilapidated house involving a Spanish prisoner of war. It’s unclear what became of him so the man tries to get the rest of the details from the housekeeper.

Read “The Mysterious Mansion”

The Atheist’s Mass | Honore de Balzac

Desplein was a lauded physician, brilliant and a staunch atheist. Despite this, his protégé, Bianchon, saw Desplein attending mass. Bianchon relates Desplein’s story to explain this discrepancy.

Read “The Atheist’s Mass”

The Guest | Albert Camus

An Arab prisoner is brought to the home of a teacher, Daru, who’s supposed to deliver the man to police headquarters. He doesn’t want to do it, but the Arab’s soldier escort leaves him there anyway.

Read “The Guest”

The Other Wife | Colette

A husband and wife go to a restaurant for supper. The man sees his ex-wife seated at a nearby table. The man and his new wife talk about his ex.

Read “The Other Wife”

The Hidden Woman | Colette

A husband and wife talk about the possibility of going to a costume ball where licentious behavior is common. The man says he has to make an out-of-town call on a patient; the woman demurs because of all the strangers there who could touch her.

The Substitute | Francois Coppee

Jean Leturc has been in trouble with the law since he was ten. After many years he finds legitimate work and tries to go straight.

Read “The Substitute”

The Ensign | Alphonse Daudet

A French regiment is holding their position on the banks of a railway. They keep their flag flying despite the advance of a Prussian force. Twenty-two officers fall before Sergeant Hornus takes over the job.

Read “The Ensign”

The Last Lesson | Alphonse Daudet

Near the end of the Franco-Prussian War, a schoolboy gets his last lesson in French because the Prussian authorities have outlawed teaching French in schools.

Read “The Last Lesson”

Our Lady’s Juggler | Anatole France

A poor but adept juggler travels and puts on performances. Eventually, he joins a monastery, and sees the monks using their abilities to praise God, making him wonder what he has to offer.

Read “Our Lady’s Juggler”

The Procurator of Judea | Anatole France

Aelius Lamia has a chance encounter with his old friend Pontius Pilate. Pilate retired early from public service. They discuss the things that he had to deal with from the Roman authorities and the Jews.

Read “The Procurator of Judea”

The Mummy’s Foot | Theophile Gautier

A man goes to a curiosity shop looking for a paperweight. He buys a mummified foot that is supposedly the four-thousand-year-old foot of Egyptian princess Hermonthis. Later that night he has a strange episode.

Read “The Mummy’s Foot”

The Doctor’s Heroism | Villiers De L’isle Adam

Doctor Hallidonhill is a renowned lung specialist with a steady stream of patients. One day a man in terrible condition comes to see him. He is tall, has enlarged pupils, is emaciated, and he’s looking for help.

The Torture of Hope | Villiers de L’isle Adam

Rabbi Abarbanel has been held in a dungeon and tortured for a year for usury and scorn for the poor. One day the Rabbi sees a sliver of light between the door and wall; he tries the door and finds it unlocked.

Read “The Torture of Hope”

The Necklace | Guy de Maupassant

Mathilde borrows a necklace from a rich friend to wear to a party, but she loses it.

Read “The Necklace”

The Taking of the Redoubt | Prosper Merimee

A young soldier has to capture a Russian held fort. The company is discouraged after suffering heavy casualties and seeing a bad sign in the sky.

Read “The Taking of the Redoubt”

Mateo Falcone | Prosper Merimee

It is seventeenth century Corsica in a dangerous region. Fortunato, a ten-year-old boy, is outside alone when he hears gunshots and a wounded man appears. He knows Fortunato’s father and asks for help to hide from pursuing soldiers.

Read “Mateo Falcone”

The Wall | Jean-Paul Sartre

Pablo is accused of being a war criminal. He is held in a cell with two other men. They are all informed they will be executed. They each deal with the news differently.

Read “The Wall”

Jeannot and Colin | Voltaire

Jeannot and Colin are close friends in childhood. One day Jeannot receives a fancy coat and is taken away to a prosperous life – his father has had a business success. Colin is downcast. Jeannot is thrown into the education of a wealthy boy, which, suspiciously, doesn’t involve learning much.

Read “Jeannot and Colin”

Memnon the Philosopher, Or Human Wisdom | Voltaire

Memnon decides to become a great philosopher by rejecting all passions including love, intemperance, and quarreling.

Read “Memnon the Philosopher”