SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY: THE QUAINTEST LITTLE BOOKSHOP IN PARIS
Today I wasn’t feeling that great (I blame the wine) so I decided to go out and get some fresh air around Paris. I’d heard excellent things about Shakespeare and Company, an English bookshop right in the middle of Paris. It’s across from the Notre Dame cathedral (so yet another highlight of Paris within walking distance of home) and it seems to have gained quite the cult following.
When you first walk in, it looks like every other overflowing English bookshop. It has books spilling out from every corner of their rooms and row upon row of novels placed on shelves mounted all the way up to the ceiling. The place has enough character to rival any of the stories it houses. Even then, I’m not doing it justice. For such a small and narrow shop, it seems to have found cracks for every genre of book that a person might be looking for – in one corner alone I saw everything from fiction to fashion to philosophy to self-help.
The personal touches of the bookshop are to be admired too – there’s wooden ladders dotted around the room to allow people to reach the books up top. There’s also a collection of first-edition classics contained in glass cabinets. They have designated reading areas, typewriters and little personalised messages from staff and fans alike. It looks like the home of a booklover who opened their doors to the public one day and forgot to close them back out. I liked that. No doubt the owner loved working in the shop… It shows.
Upstairs in the shop is a designated reading area – it’s purpose being to allow people to take books (older editions and classics mainly) from the shop’s library and curl up and read. I loved the idea of that but find it a tad unrealistic given the current popularity of the shop. Once upon a time that might’ve been feasible, but with the flow of visitors that the shop attracts, I can’t see reading there as being too appealing. Granted, I went in on a Saturday afternoon, but there were so many people shuffling in and out that I can’t imagine anyone finding peace and quiet to read their books. My advice would be to grab your book, then get a crepe or coffee and take it to a bench near the Seine or a cafe nearby. Better yet would be to go to the Luxembourg Gardens just a brief walk away, but that’s just my opinion…