Every time we visit Paris, we go to Shakespeare & Co. This cult English bookshop is such a treat. With books stacked to the ceiling in various small rooms decorated with wooden ladders, it really seems as if time has stood still here. Opposite to the Notre Dame at the Rive Gauche near St. Germain this little store takes you right back in history.
The store was originally opened in 1919 by Sylvia Beach and functioned not only as a bookstore, bus also as a library and hangout for writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and James Joyce during the Belle Époque. In Hemingway’s book A Moveable Feast, the store is mentioned various times as it really was the gathering place of aspiring Anglo-American writers in Paris. After moving to various addresses, the store was closed during World War II to be reopened again in 1951 by George Whitman at the current address where it’s now run by his daughter Sylvia (yes, named after…)
I personally am a big sucker for books and especially for English books. Coming into this charming old store makes me just sooo happy. I allow myself to only buy one book at once (also because I don’t want to carry stacks of books with me the whole day while discovering the city) and every single time I find a new treasure. Perfect to read in the Thalys when heading back to Amsterdam after the weekend. My favorite is A Moveable Feast by Hemingway, taking you along in his days in Paris in the 1920s when the city was at its artisticial heydays. Also John Baxter’s book The Most Beautiful Walk is a very enjoyable read and sets off on the trail of Paris’ legendary artists and writers. These books will really make you fall in love with this city even more. Oh, what I would give to go back in time and spend a couple of days in Paris’ roaring twenties…
Shakespeare & Co is open 7 days a week, making it very convenient to pay a visit. Now, you’re also close to Jardin du Luxembourg, in case you already want to start reading in you’re newly purchased book. Or discover a bit of the boutique lined small streets of the neighborhood around Boulevard St. Germain.
Shakespeare & Company
37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005
Open: Monday to Sunday 11:00 to 23:00
Metro: St-Michel – Notre Dame