What this world needs is just some really good old world bookstores. (Sad to see so many bookstores closing in USA.) This bookstore is classic. It is named after Sylvia Beach's bookstore, as a tribute.
So when I went to Paris, I knew I had to visit this historic bookstore. My sister who is a crazy shopper didn't want to go here as much because it would have given her less time to shop for clothes etc. Anyways, long story short, she adored the this bookstore/ reading library (upstairs) more than I did. She bought more books than me as well. And it's cool, Shakespeare and Company, will stamp the inside of your book with their logo etc.
If you are visiting Paris, make this part of your places to see. You won't regret coming here and enjoy this charming little bookstore for sure. They have a diverse range of books no matter what interests you have!!!~
The books are overpriced, but understandable if you consider that you're mostly paying for the stamp. The poetry section is limited, and it's hard to find what you're looking for, but I was still able to pick up some E.E. Cummings and Shakespeare. I recommend coming here at the beginning of your trip, so that you can order a copy of the book you want -- they're often sold out -- in advance and pick it up later.
Overall, this is a charming bookstore that I could have easily and gladly spent a whole day exploring. Knowing its history makes it all the more wonderful.
Really love this shop could have killed a day in there reading and searching through shelves.
This is a book lovers dream with a beautiful history as well. Go and get a book and keep supporting this treasure of a place.
Great as expected. The upstairs library is cool with the open windows. Not as big as I thought, though.
I visited this bookstore twice during my trip to Paris. The first time I only had 15 minutes so I grabbed the book I wanted ("The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Díaz" and left.
The second time I ventured upstairs where there was a Welsh man playing piano, a Thai-American playing percussion on an old yellow typewriter, and an Israeli blues vocalist/harmonica tooter. A British whistler (best I've ever heard) left early on in the mix. The trio jammed a good long while, though, and all became friends. Later a lecture started in the other reading room which was very well attended.
I really liked that everyone could stretch out, read, make music, and just generally hang around upstairs without the usual bookstore attitude of "buy it or get out." Sure, Shakespeare & Company is a hipster hotbed, but at least this one has history and legitimate commitment to loafing.
Four instead of five stars because like any tourist destination the merchandise was overpriced. I also think they should sell more second-hand books than just the rare paperbacks, especially since the whole stamp of Shakespeare & Company approval isn't like a "we published this and approve this message" kind of stamp, so it's not like it matters if the book is old or on its twelfth owner.
If I left Paris with only one souvenir, I had already decided it would be a book from Shakespeare & Co, stamped and all.
I was so excited to be able to actually visit this famous bookstore, but I don't think I was actually prepared for it.
It's right on the water, across from Notre Dame, so the location is very convenient if you're a tourist. Not to mention easy to find, and difficult to get lost since you are staring right at the Cathedral.
We tried to go on a Thursday morning, around ten a.m., but the line out of the door was so ridiculous we decided to come back later or another day. We finally swung by at a later hour, around the p.m., and there was no wait to get in.
Upon walking in, I was immediately hit in the face with the very thick, heavy air in the room; like the smell of a stack of books when I was a kid and spent hours in the library corner.... smelling books? But really, the air is so strong with the smell of paper, in thr best way.
Right away you're surrounded by floor to ceiling shelves of books. Left, right, everywhere. It's kind of hard to take in, since it's usually so crowded in thr small space, you kind of have to just keep moving.
They really make use of their space, and there are books everywhere. I don't want to add spoilers, so just walk around, explore, look at the details. It's a beautiful little space with decades of charm.
They are open late, until 11p.m. We stopped by one night around nine and it was not crowded at all. Plus the lights outside were on, which made for a very romantic atmosphere (or photo, to me).
It is really cool and well worth the stop just to take in its unique atmosphere and find some great new and used books
Adorable bookstore, just like I had expected it to be. A bit cramped with very narrow passages - not recommended for anyone with backpacks or children and strollers. The stairs are rickety and the stacks are full of wonderful old books.
Great selection of english texts as well -
I'd recommend coming here earlier in the morning since by mid-day it's full of tour groups and tourists who insist on blocking the corridors to pose with old books for photos. When I was there yesterday a group of Japanese women were making a pile of old, very old books to sit next to so they could pose with them. I couldn't help but wonder if those books were not to be touched - but they went for it anyway.
On the positive side, there was a lovely young woman and her friend upstairs playing on the old piano. She was quite good and the melodies floated through the stacks giving you the ability to be transported to another place and time.
Book prices are reasonable - staff speaks fluent english and french. Very knowledgeable and friendly. If you're on a tight budget, you can have them place a Shakespeare & Company stamp on a piece of paper, inside of your book, or postcard for 1 euro. This is a cheap way to have a little memory of your time here.
Also have books half price out front. The cafes nearby are too expensive, so just walk 5 minutes southward (away from Notre Dame) and you'll find a great variety of creperies and brasseries to grab a snack or meal for much less.
Packed, overated, & tiny. I was expecting more, so not so impressed. Cute, but don't get the hype.
A darling store, smack dab in the middle of Paris that sells books in English. If you walk in, you may take it for granted as a store that sells books you've seen back home with Euro pricing BUT there is much more to it than that.....Per Wikipedia "During the 1920s, it was a gathering place for writers such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford. It closed in 1940 during the German occupation and never reopened." As an English major, this place is kind of a big deal. I'm also a HUGE fan of Midnight in Paris and Before Sunset, so this store has even more meaning for me.
My suggestion, come in, peruse. Buy a book that you like and ask them to stamp it for you. Then go to a market, pick up some savory treats or some sweets and head to the Jardin du Tuleries or Place de Vosges and bask in the day while you enjoy your new book and amazing French treats.
I love this bookstore!! Located in the Latin Quarter. First book I picked up was about Bill Murray, haha. Great shop.
Shakespeare & Company is absolutely adorable. It's charming, eccentric and... well just a great place to hang out. But it WAY more than a bookstore.
There are open poetry readings, a book club meets there, a writer's workshops are held there, writer come by regularly. It's a world in a world. So if you come to Paris, don't just drop by and check Shakespeare & Company off of the list of historic place to visit. Hang around a while and see who shows up. And if you have a little more time, hang around a longer while and you'll surely make friends. Did I mention how friendly the staff is?
What an incredible little place. So many books, little nooks and quirks. It gets pretty busy though so I recommend going early morning. A huge selection of books. Make sure you go upstairs too
To be surrounded, in every nook and cranny, by books - was a DREAM. In spring, the tree outside is covered in pink cotton balls of blossom. On busy days, there is a maximum capacity that they adhere to - beware the slowly moving line to get in. But if you haven't been, the wait is absolutely worth it. AND if you buy a book, request a stamp. They'll know what you mean.
I adore bookstores like this that have character and depth.
In every little nook and cranny they have jammed books upon books. Hidden rooms with books, nestled under stair cases, and bookcases that are floor to ceiling fill every inch of space in this tiny little Latin Quarter treasure.
They have an antiquities side of the bookstore of you're looking for a first pressing of a beloved book as well as the primary shop that has all of the most recent titles they can jam in their stock. I snagged a great little book of Keith Haring journals and upon checking out was asked if I wanted my book stamped. Yes please! How cute is that?!
The employees are primarily British as far as I could tell so you don't need to worry about a language barrier here, and most if not all of the books are in English. I would venture back to this place time and time again just to sit outside the doors on a nice day reading a great book.
Great little old book store across from Notre Dame in the Latin Quarter. This historic English language bookstore in Paris was frequented by literary greats such as Hemingway.
It can get quite crowded inside and the passageways can be quite narrow. It is a great place to browse the aisles though and has much more of a classical, cultural feel to it than a modern bookstore. I feel like you could be transported back 60 years and it would look very similar to how it looks today.
When you purchase books, be sure to have them stamped. They will put a stamp on the inside front cover reminding you that you purchased your book at Shakespeare & Company. I bought two beautifully illustrated childrens books from their front display and they also gave us a free tote for the books with the Shakespeare logo and gold stickers matching the same.
This review is long overdue but I just wanted to give kudos to the store and staff. As a newly arrived expat, total immersion in another culture and language was exciting but was also overwhelming. S&C was a little respite where I could read, hear and speak English until I found my bearings in Paris. I'm back home now but S&C will always be special to me.
3/29/2014 my bag and book arrived!! I'm so excited! The packing smelled like chocolate - major bonus!! I ordered the Facebook promotion - it was a Shakespeare bag and a lined notebook with authors on the front ant back!
This little bookshop was a must do for my friends and I while in Paris. The original opened in 1919 and in the 20s was a gathering place for a slew of famous writers including Hemingway. This location opened in 1951 and is right across the street from Notre Dame.
The shelves are filled with unique books and some not so unique books. Some are there simply for reading while most can be bought. There is a section upstairs with very old books that are fun to go through. Seating is sparse and walking through the shop, it's quite narrow so prepare yourself. I was able to buy an adorable book for myself as a souvenir...a children's pop up Paris book for 8 euros.
My friends and I found one of our favorite spots in Paris in this little bookshop. Upstairs there is a little bed surrounded by children's books and a wall full of notes. People from all over the globe have left notes and so we had to do the same. We weren't aware of this special spot before going so weren't fully prepared. Our note was written on a scrap piece of paper and taped up with a sticker from Laduree. 'Our dogs be kickin'! But we love us some Paris! Sarah, Sarah & Christina 2-2013 Chicago' was our note to live forever on the wall.
This adorable English language bookshop is well worth a visit when you're in Paris.
The space is packed, so it can feel a little claustrophobic at times, but it's worth it to browse the stacks.
The 2nd floor has a library, piano, and typewriter.
When you buy a book on the 1st floor, the staff stamps it to mark that you purchased it at Shakespeare & Company in Paris, so it makes a great souvenir.
Finally, a slice of Paris that doesn't feel like a romanticized, manufactured experience. I love reading, but I'm normally buried underneath too many textbooks to be bothered getting lost in any story. Waiting outside awkwardly, I read the paragraph painted on, a message from the previous owner.
My existence won't be complete until I can write like that. We're so stimulated by these Yelps and Googles of the world, I just have an appreciation for reading anything that draws me in immediately. No bright colors, no models, no audio. Just words.
If I were a rich man with lots of time, I'd read every book I picked up here. The selection is flawless, not one piece strikes me as boring. Ultimately, I chose "America" by Jean Baudrillard, and while my schooling leaves me with little time to appreciate it, I like to relax and absorb it chapter by chapter. The point of traveling isn't to pose in front of large structures, it's to learn new things and see the world with new eyes. I have these new eyes, so that even though I may leave far off lands, they may never leave me.
I don't know man; it's cute inside and out, definitely check it out, but it's just a normal book store that also happens to be a tribute band. It's basically just what the New Globe Theater is in London, but that wasn't in "Before Sunset" so... They saved me from making what I later found out would have been very unmemorable poetry purchases by not having on them on the shelf so I guess that's a plus.
Def check it out, just go in with no expectations.
French staff member: "Brian what is a geek?"
American staff member: "A geek...a geek is anybody that reads books, or well maybe not but ... if you work here you're def a geek."
French staff member: "hmmm?"
There may very well come a time when e-readers lead to the mass extinction of stores that sell physical copies of books. The next generation of readers, raised on Androids, Kindles and iPads, may fail to appreciate the appearance of the word in print.
Until that time, bookstores like Shakespeare & Company exist and I am glad they do.
I barely explored much of the interior thanks to my laser guided focus on a section of books close to the entrance: food!
Volume after volume of English language books on cooking, French cooking, the history of cooking, how to cook, Peter Cook (not quite) and all matters of the kitchen. I squatted close to the ground so as to ensure not a single volume on the lower shelf escaped my curious eyes. I left with a copy of Waverley Root's 1958 work "The Food of France", the first page stamped with the Shakespeare & Co seal, a guide to the regional cuisine of France and a memory of my trip all wrapped in a portable volume. (That doesn't require recharging and is not the subject of NYC subway theft warnings. I doubt criminals are suddenly seeking out 50+ year old books that describe regional cuisine.)
This store is the second Shakespeare & Company in Paris. The first hosted the who's who of the American expat community of the 1920's, think Hemingway and F.Scott Fitzgerald. Think Woody Allen's non-NYC filmed movie "Midnight in Paris" to understand that particular scene. (And the current store was featured in the flick).
The current incarnation was founded in 1951, changed its name to Shakespeare & Company in 1964 and was a haven for American beat writers. There's literary history in the walls of this shop and the imagination runs wild conceiving of the conversations that took place here.
Stacks of books are everywhere and there's an exploratory excitement in rummaging through every corner of the store to find the unexpected gem. If I had more time I'd have perused the other areas but I'll have to save that for next time.
If you have even the smallest appreciation of reading, writing and the history of both, visit this store.
A book lover's paradise located steps from St. Michel and in sight of Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Company is a must-see Paris destination.
Made famous by the Lost Generation of the 1930s, Shakespeare & Company is where Hemingway, Pound, Stein would gather and buy books written in English in Paris. Even after all these years, it still has an inescapable bohemian air of the Left Bank.
Make sure to come when there's a book reading right outside on the front steps. You'll swear you feel the ghosts of writers past still lingering and listening.
This has been LONG overdue but I really need to write up my experience of what arguably is the most famous of Paris's bookstores (as determined by its appearance in every movie from "Before Sunset" to "Midnight in Paris").
Shakespeare & Co. is a deceptively modest looking shop that looks like it belongs in Diagon Ally (I hope you Potterheads get that).
The store does indeed contain a lot of books (as you would expect) but it also comes with a lot of charm. From the outside, the overlooks the gorgeous Notre Dame Cathedral and can even on a chilly day attract a good crowd of people to its outdoor bins of bargain basement books of all sizes, genres and languages. The dimly lit, rustic interior is just STACKED with books and thus comes with that slight air of mustiness that reeks of a magical bookstore experience just waiting to happen.
There are few reasons why you should not stop by this bookstore - especially since it's close to a lot of must-see Parisian landmarks.
I loved this shop. It's a bit small and cramped, but it has a lovely ambiance, a helpful staff, and a stellar selection of English books. The only downside is that, since it's in a highly touristy area near Notre Dame, and also mostly (if not entirely) full of English books, it caters to people who are visiting Paris. This isn't a bad thing, necessarily, but the pick-pockets know this and seem to stake out the area... particularly on a nice day. While I didn't get pick-pocketed, I did get patted down (I was aware enough to not have anything in my pockets) by one.
When in Paris, I do recommend visiting this store (and the smaller one next door with rare books), just be sure that you're aware and alert as you mill about and shop.
George Whitman opened "Le Mistral" in 1951, but renamed the bookstore to "Shakespeare and Company" in 1964 in tribute to Sylvia Beach's original bookstore from 1919. Much like the original Shakespeare and Company, the store became a focal point for literary culture in bohemian Paris, and was frequented by many writers, such as Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and William S. Burroughs.
Today, Shakespeare & Company serves both as a bookstore and as a library, specializing in English-language literature. The shop was featured in Richard Linklater's film, "Before Sunset", and in Woody Allen's film, "Midnight in Paris".
This romantic, delightfully cluttered bookstore is definitely worth a stop. There are delightful books and treasures packed in every nook and cranny. As you twist and turn through the overcrowded bookshelves and tables make your way upstairs to a collection of used books.
A must see store for all book lovers!
If you like the feeling of books surrounding you from every direction and often unexpected places, this place is for you. There are actually so many bookshelves that the walking area is pretty limited. Those who frequent Golden Corral back in America should probably not venture past the cashier just inside the door.
I showed up on a rainy evening in September so things were pretty quiet inside. I wandered up the narrow, creaky staircase to the second floor and took a look around. There was a group having some sort of discussion in a back room. Another room had more bookshelves on every wall and there was a piano waiting for someone to play.
I talked to a young man of about 18 who was lounging on some cushions reading the last pages of "Crime and Punishment" by Dostoevsky. He was from the Midwest in America and said he was a "stowaway" or some other term. Apparently, the store lets a young person or two sleep there at night, literally right there in the store. In exchange for free lodging they help clean and open up in the morning.
I read an adverse review complaining that they couldn't find anything here that they couldn't find back at home in America. I would hope this is case for an English book store in Paris. I don't think they are trying to rival Barnes & Noble.
For a floor-to-celing English bookstore in Paris with character and charm leaking from its' crevasses, Shakespeare & Company is nothing less than a bookstore landmark. It inspires everyone from the common book dabbler to the intense literature lover and though I wouldn't venture to be a "stowaway", I certainly wouldn't mind staying for a while.
The most adorable panic attack I've ever had.
Great, adorable, cozy little bookshop full of books in English, aisles not wide enough for Kate Moss, and salespeople who will sigh loudly as they try to get by you without helping you. This place would be soooooooooooooo perfect for your next bout of claustrophobia.
Come here at an off time to truly appreciate its charm.
Note: If you want to come here because you saw it in "Midnight in Paris", don't worry about freaking out in here. You made it through a Woody Allen movie. You can make it through this bookstore.
If you're of a remotely literary bent and interested in Paris you've surely heard of the celebrated English language bookstore near Notre Dame, named for Sylvia Beach's original (which never reopened after WWII) & home to eccentric clerks (read "Time Was Soft There" by Jeremy Mercer for an account).
Surely useful to American expats and hipster semester-abroad kids looking for an English book fix (though I did see other English language bookstores around town), but honestly, speaking as a traveler, there was nothing here that I can't get at home! (I did buy a copy of "The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook" -- haha -- and a graphic novel about Kiki de Montparnasse for a friend. If you ask, you can get the clerk to stamp the shop's logo inside the cover, but the girl who checked me out clearly would not have done so if I hadn't mentioned it.)
This place is clearly getting by on novelty, cache and nearness to tourist stops (it's right across from Notre Dame). There is nothing wrong with it, certainly, but as someone who has worked in several bookstores I can't see what the excitement is, honestly, which was a bit of a let-down given all of its hype.
Here she stands looking over La Seine, a beacon to the literature obsessed. The immenseness of this small, legendary shop overtakes you before you even enter the door, but it is one step in that overwhelms me with the enormity of its splendor.
The walls of books reach for the heavens, while the narrow walkways embrace you. Where the beginning of this journey starts I do not know. I can only wander breathless, attempting to absorb the scent and orgasmic sight around me.
Up a narrow staircase lie books dusty and well worn, cradled in the loving hands of those scattered in the chairs throughout the attic. Love letters to this landmark are pinned upon the walls/ Perhaps some are from the typewriter nestled in its cubby, a respite from the jumble of speechless, wide-eyed adventurers.
In the back a bench stretches along the wall, and I sit there listening to the pianist playing in the little room to the side. How jealous am I of those lucky ones who have been gifted the privilege of residing in this heaven in exchange for a story.
In this, my happiest place in Paris, I could spend all eternity with every day a new discovery!
P.S. For those with their criticisms of this establishment, please research the history of Shakespeare and Company... George Whitman and his daughter Sylvia Whitman (who took over the shop when he passed), have dedicated themselves to nourishing young writers and helping the literary community to flourish. They provide workshops, invite authors to read at the store, and have taken in traveling young writers. And for those who are looking for something unique, check out the antique book shop which is next door to the main part of the company. There you can find first editions and rare manuscripts.
Listed as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.
What? Okay I know this bookstore has a history, but I don't know why it was considered beautiful. Maybe it was because it had been featured in movies like Midnight in Paris.
The shop looked beat up, dilapidated and disorganized.
Don't get me wrong, I do have a lot of appreciation for historic places, but I just don't get the appeal. The shop is crammed floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall with books. It's almost like a fire hazard.
If you buy a book here, you can get it stamped if you ask for it.
A bookstore that feels haunted, smells musty and beckons you in from the cold streets.
A bookstore full of English books.
A bookstore that serves wine
A bookstore you'll want to go into even if you're not sure why.
Beautiful, intriguing, magical. Really. The upstairs area is so amazing! I loved the wall filled with notes left by visitors in all different languages.
There is something so romantic and mystical about books. I love the binding, the way the pages feel and smell, the ink. The notion that strangers before me have leafed through the very same book makes me feel connected to the world in a strange way. This feeling is intensified at Shakespeare & Co.!
A charming stop! Definitely pop in here after your trip to Notre Dame. I would spend hours on the second story if I could. It's adorable and they have a little bit of everything. Be prepared as it does become crowded. A must see though!
One of the original English bookstores in Paris. The owner is now very old so his daughter runs the store, and she pretty much keeps it exactly the way it's always been.
Books line the floor, stacked on top of each other, bookshelves go from floor to ceiling, small narrow walkways into the back room, and no sitting space. Thats the inside of this bookstore...opposite of an American Barnes & Noble or even a Fench Gilbert Jeune...and that's why I love this place. The feel and atmosphere of worn pages and cramped bookshop just makes me happy.
Prices are quite steep so I suggest you try other places like San Francisco Book Co first, but if you can't find what you're looking for, they will order it for you here.
If this bookstore were in America, it would be a scenester's paradise.
Just a stone's throw from the Notre Dame Catherdal, this place is worth walking into, if only for a quick look around. So many books-I wish I'd had more time to look through the bookshelves; I would've loved to buy a book here!
There's a kitschy little alcove upstairs with a typewriter in it--people type something and stick it to the walls. I'm happy to say I did that, but I'm sure it's long gone by now, haha.
They have books in several languages! Next time I'm in Paris, I'm definitely stopping back in here and I WILL BUY A BOOK!!!
Agreed. Shakespeare & Company is more than just that place you see in the movies. It is that important beginning that stemmed from a lover of books, that infected the likes of Hemingway and Ezra Pound. If you read, and you are interested in history, you should visit the store in any case. It's an aged two story portion of a greater building, right off the river, right across from the Notre Dame.
Make sure you get your book stamped and pick up a euro postcard. Before you check out, head upstairs, listen to the whoever thats playing the piano, sit in the typewriter room and stair out the window. It's a beautiful sight, and it brings that feeling to you with even more intensity.
I only wish I could go back in time and check out the books, while now, with it being so infamous and visited, those old and vintage gems are hard to find.
This bookstore is like stepping back into time!!
It's sooooo wonderful to see all kinds of genres on the shelves.
They have soo much books, it's never ending here. hehe!!
The owners and the employees here are soo sweet and very helpful!
The prices here are reasonable!
It's really an unforgettable place in Paris.
This place is more cozier than Barnes & Nobles or Borders from the states! =)
It's really worth it to come in and experience what locals read.
Shakespeare & Co is a monument. It is a mecca for book lovers throughout the world.
Shakespeare and Co is musty and old. The floors and stairs creak as you walk across them. An old piano sits tucked away in a corner upstairs where occasionally a guest will play Beethoven or Chopin.The velvet covered sitting chairs look as though they saw the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille and the books... oh the books.
Shakespeare & Co is more akin to visiting the private library of an eccentric albeit tasteful member of the European nobility, than browsing the aisles of a simple "bookstore."
Rare and first print books abound waiting to be admired or acquired for some lucky individual's collection.
A must see if you are in Paris. Assuming you love books.
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