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.
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?
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 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.
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?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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 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.
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.
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.!
One of my favorite places in Paris, hands down.
The atmosphere outside is almost as fantastic as the one inside. Cats and dogs are roaming about. People rummaging for books.
Once inside, it's a bit crowded, and you're literally surounded by books. Get your books stamped! Pick up the Paris Magazine!
BEFORE you go rummaging through the books, go to the second level. In the childrens section theres a place where people have left notes, pictures and other things of that type. It's a beautiful sight. Someone is usually playing the piano. There is a tiny booth with a typewriter inside if you feel so inclined to write something.
ALSO! There are fantastic pictures of authors along the stairs.
If you like reading, this place is a MUST.
I have always wanted to go here because 1. I LOVE BOOKSTORES and 2. IT JUST LOOKS AWESOME!
There is so much inside to just look at as well as outside. It's rich with history and very famous all over. Books were pretty decently priced, and if I wasn't traveling with just a book bag I would've stocked up.
If in Paris, especially during the summer heat, go in and explore. Check out the awesome crooks and the cute as HEYALL children's section upstairs!
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.
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.
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.
I've always been a huge bookworm, and I've been obessed with Paris for as long as I can remember so it's no wonder that I simply adore Shakespeare & Co. It's a small store that is crammed with books and also with history. I could spend hours just wandering around the shop, looking through all of the books.
The books are a little on the pricey side, though no more than you would pay anywhere else in France for books in English, but if you think of it as a nice souvenir, then it's not so bad.
I recommend picking up a book and heading to the park next door and finding a nice park bench to sit on. Enjoy an afternoon reading and watching the crowds go by.
This is a cultural landmark. Each room explodes with character and ideas. The books define the store but it's history is represented everywhere you look. Spectacular place to spend a leisurely afternoon.
A book lover's paradise. Among shelves of books of all languages, ages, and genres, sit pieces of traveling book lovers who come to see one of the world's most well known literary spaces. On the second floor sits a beautiful, old typewriter in the nook of visitors' love notes or their own wishes and dreams. Cross over to the other side sits an old piano and a tiny cot where the current traveler is sharing his talent of music with anyone who listens. And in the room facing the busy Paris streets, a comfortable couch for the tired feet.
The staff are quaint and quirky, who come from all places in the world to share with you their knowledge of the spine. The entire space, though tiny, is lined with books and anything that will touch the literary lover's heart.
A MUST visit when visiting Paris!
A trip to Paris isn't complete without a visit to Sylvia Beach's bookstore Shakespeare & Company. Walking through the stacks of books is a singular feeling. This place oozes with history all of it's own in a city that's nothing but. You never know what you're going find. While you're snaking through, take in the silence and imagine all the greats who've walked in those same footsteps. Truly inspiring!
PS Don't forget to pet le chat or le chein!
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.
Along with Three Lives & Co. in the West Village of New York, this is one of my favourite bookstores in the world. A recent comment asked how the store can be considered beautiful. I guess it all depends on your interpretation of beautiful, doesn't it? If you're more the chain store - Borders/B&N type, this might not appeal to you. But for English speakers adrift and living in foreign speaking countries, Shakespeare & Co is wonderful.
And the prices are far lower than the English bookstores in Amsterdam.
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!!!
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.
Just do it.
Even if you're not a book worm...just roam around the Shakespeare & Company bookstore. Even if you don't have time to read books, just go in and smell the books. This place is extraordinary. Shakespeare & Company is like the wardrobe in "The Chronicles of Narnia", you really end up in a fantasy world and forget that time flies. Plus, if you're a tourist, you're in a bookstore in Paris...with Parisians, that's already a different experience! Have fun!
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.
This is the bookstore of my dreams. Every time I am in Paris I make a point to go to here for at least a few hours. A friend stumbled across it and took me and I have been head over heels in love with this little building ever since.
You can become lost for hours in the shelves that seems as though they have no rhyme or reason but are perfectly in order. When you purchase a book they will mark a page of your book with a Shakespeare and Company Kilometer Zero Paris stamp if you want.
It's an English bookstore in a city filled with more librairies than I have seen in any other city.
There is also a section that sells rare and antique books. I've never felt more like an excited child on Christmas than when I am here.
Paris je t'aime
Shakespeare and Company je t'aime
What an amazing bookstore/haven for young budding writers/lounge for cats this place is.
So worth a visit when in Paris.
The story goes that the original owner wanted to have a place where budding writers could stay, get inspired and write their dream piece.
It's a quirky place, with a few levels. Bed spaces are nestled amongst the books, the walls full of lovely thanks and stories from the writers that were fortunate to stay there and cats lounging everywhere you look.
I really admire people who make room in their lives for people less fortunate than themselves to have a chance at fulfilling their dreams.
In this case the dream of writing the next big thing, or just a great piece for like minded people to share.
It's a must see when in Paris.
The writing on the walls says it all (literally).
Check it out for yourselves, an awesome and inspiring book haven!
For a refreshing burst of English in Paris, come to Shakespeare & Company. I absolutely LOVE bookstores like this... Bookstores where it's a fire hazard inside with shelves lined from floor to ceiling on every wall. Bookstores where books easily spill out onto the floor as they live in every nook and cranny. Bookstores where used books are sold for pennies (or in this case, 2 for 1E!). Bookstores where you can spend hours lost in a literature frenzy. To find a bookstore like this in Paris was bliss.
Located in the Latin Quarter (one of my favorite areas in Paris, seriously so charming!) and surrounded by a plethora of shops, restaurants, and yes, tourists. However, don't let that deter you from picking up a book and posting with it and a coffee at a nearby cafe. Or do the reserve and order a cafe creme (espresso with milk) to go and sit at the little tables or benches in front of the store!
p.s. Ask for a free bookmark!
I really enjoyed "Before Sunset", so S&C was always on my list of places to see. But what I didn't know was just how awesome this bookstore is! The history behind it was pretty interesting as well....
My Wife is a bit of a bookworm, so she was very excited to check this place out. While buying books isn't the best travel strategy, as they quickly weigh down your luggage, but it was unavoidable.
Take the time to check out all the rooms, nooks, and crannies. The fountain outside the shop is pretty cool too....
I made sure to buy a copy of Keroauc's "Satori in Paris". It sits on my shelf (with a S&C stamp) as a great reminder of this Paris landmark.
Let's put it this way...
We loved Shakespeare & Company so much, that we came back to Denver and opened our own little bookshop. It's *that* good.
Can't wait to attend the Literary Festival have tea with George and Sylvia in June!
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