MADRID — Audrey Tautou (“Coco Before Chanel,” “The Da Vinci Code”) will topline “La Delicatesse,” the directorial debut of young but established French novelist David Foenkinos.

Co-written and co-directed by brother Stephane Foenkinos, a casting director, “Delicatesse” will be lead-produced by Paris-based 2.4.7 Films.

Euro film giant StudioCanal will co-produce, distribute in France and sell “Delicatesse” worldwide, where Tautou will be a major asset.

2.4.7 Films’ Marc-Antoine Robert and Xavier Rigault take producer credits.

Both a romantic melodrama and playful tragicomedy, according to Robert, “La Delicatesse” co-stars popular Belgian thesp Francois Damiens, on a roll after his role in “Heartbreaker.” He plays a Swedish man who falls for a young office co-worker, played by Tautou.

Still mourning the death three years before of her husband in an accident, but delicately courted by the Swede, she gradually reawakens to life and falls in love again.

Budgeted at E6.8 million ($9.3 million), “La Delicatesse” is a big-screen makeover of David Foenkinos’ eighth novel of the same title, which came out in 2009 and sold in 16 countries. It will be published in the U.S. by Harper Collins.

“We tracked the book, which is very touching and also quite funny, and always believed it would be a great film. Also, we thought their short, ‘Une histoire de pieds,’ was great,” said Leonard Glowinski, StudioCanal head of French and European co-productions.

Teaming with the Kennedy/Marshall Co., 2.4.7 also lead-produced 2007’s “Persepolis,” directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, adapting Satrapi’s graphic novels.

“We like the idea of working with a couple of directors, and writers adapting their work for cinema,” said Robert.

France 2 Cinema, Canal Plus, CineCinema and the Banque Postale Sofica co-finance. Principal photography starts March 7 in and around Paris. “Delicatesse” is skedded for release first half 2012.