[–] ardvarcus 0 points 1 points (+1|-0) ago 

Before you chow down on these novels, you might want to try a few short stories by these French writers. Both wrote excellent stories.

[–] White_European [S] 0 points 0 points (+0|-0) ago 

I personally prefer Zola. The reason is: Balzac's stories are a bit over the top most of the time, almost fairytale-like. Hence I recommend "Lost illusions" which stands out in my opinion.