So I had another day in Paris, this time on my own. I decided to take the day to discover all of the bookstores that I have heard about in guides and from random people here and there. I know that there are a lot of bookstores in Paris, but I decided to focus on ones that primarily sell books in English, and that were accessible by foot from Notre Dame. In one day I was able to see 5 English bookstores, one secondhand one and I strolled by the Seine to have a look at all of the little bookkeepers by the river.
Paris is such a beautiful, vibrant city. Century-old architecture looks brand new, and is artfully mixed with modern structures and concepts. I've really been enjoying discovering it street by street.
What strikes people about Paris before they even visit is that it's a 'romantic' city - this really plays out in the little cafes, shops, restaurants, and even within the bookstores. Stacks of pages with endless words coming together to form thoughts by thousands of authors, separated only by genre and shelves. I adored my little tour today, and I really wanted to share my discoveries with you!
I focused on English books for this blogpost, as it is so easy to find the french stores, however as an English reader, I wanted a list. At the moment I realized this, I wanted to make a list for anyone who primarily reads in English and who may visit Paris, sooner or later.
These will be covered in chronological order. All of these photos are mine, addresses are up-to-date. I realize the photos do need a little editing but I'm not on my own computer! My laptop has been showing signs of weakness, such that I can't even open the internet!
Shakespeare and Co - 37 Rue de la Bucherie
This bookshop is an absolute fairytale. A maze of nooks and crannies, it has an artful architecture, an unexpected book display, and quotes galore. I did snap a few photos before seeing a very clear 'no photos' sign, put in place to not disturb the readers and browsers. This bookstore goes to the point to having chairs, couches and even beds to have a cozy place to read. With its adjoining cafe and perfect view on Notre Dame, it is easy to spend an afternoon there, just browsing the shelves, and trying to find what genre you may find around the next bend.
San Francisco Books co - 17 Rue Monsieur le PrinceThis store is an absolute gem. It's layout is simple - one room with shelves lining the walls and taking over the center, with a small back room also lined with shelves. But when I say lined with shelves, I mean that it is difficult to find a spot without paper. Books are piled literally floor-to-ceiling, fitted together like a giant Tetris puzzle. It is a little out-of-the-way, so I was lucky enough to be alone in this bookstore, and took almost an hour to simply browse. It is a magestic spot for any booklover - weather you are looking for the biography of John Lennon or the latest Ken Follet, you will most likely find what you are looking for.
This bookstore was one of my favorite discoveries in the city! You walk in and the first thing you hear is the owner, inviting you for coffee or tea, that is available to anyone even walking by in the street. The store is divided in two sides - new books on the left, second hand on the right. The cool thing was, that the further you go into the store, the narrower it gets. There are books piled to the ceiling and on the floor, just available for anyone. The children's books in the back are in a section that is so narrow that you need to be quite small to be there comfortably. Downstairs is another maze of narrow halls, to maximize the amount of books in that area. So nice, but maybe avoid if you're a tad claustrophobic!
The Seine's banks are home to a few hundred little green boxes that contain books, magazines and art, all of which are made to have a vintage feel. Some of them are properly vintage, allowing for some wonderful finds! Be careful being there with a camera, the owners are not always welcoming to photos!
Galignani - 224 Rue de Rivoli
If you are looking for elegance, look no further than Galignani! Next to the Louvre and near the fanciest area of the city, this English bookshop has a loft-like feeling, all while keeping our fairytale-loving fantasies alive by having - wait for it - sliding ladders, attached to all the shelves! There is a beautifully-organized series of books, on several floors, all open to each other so you can see books no matter where you look. This store keeps new books, but has such a fancy ambiance, that you can just look around for a long time!
WHSmith - 248 Rue de Rivoli
This is another bookstore that I had already encountered, but I loved re-visiting it just as much as I did the first time! Taking up two floors, this bookstore doubles as a tea room, as well as a shop for goods from the UK. It is set up to accommodate every interest, including a healthy stock of fandom items, children's toys and office supplies. It is very easy to find, and a lovely place to sit for tea!