Friday, September 14, 2012

Adventures in Paris - Shakespeare and Co.

Oh I admit it - this was a pilgrimage site for me!  I have been besotted with the idea of this place for many years, a fact that was only cemented again when I watched one of my favourite films, Before Sunset, recently.

This is "THE" english bookstore in Paris.  Its original incarnation was visited by Hemingway and Fitzgerald.  This reincarnation, created in 1951 by George Whitman, has hosted Miller, Nin, and William S. Burroughs to name but a few.

It is my idea of the perfect bookstore, despite being so well-visited.  It gives me the same feeling that I get when I visit the Strand in NYC - this is a bookstore for people who LOVE books.  We spent quite a lot of time here on a couple of occasions, as my family is comprised of people who not only like books, but we love pretty versions of books...

The store was 3 blocks from our hotel.  The first night we arrived in Paris we walked down here, en route to finding our first dinner spot.  It was quite magical for me. 

It was also quintessentially Paris for me.  On the 2nd floor there is a piano in one of the rooms, and there was a young man playing Bach.  Oh my!

As I walked up the narrow stairs, there was wallpaper depicting THE authors of the lost generation:

And the little interior courtyard was decorated with kitchsy toys:

Don't ask why these photos are sideways - despite my best efforts, they WANT to be sideways!  I believe this is the ghost of Burroughs at work... 

Out front, an artist was painting the shop:

He was an American from somewhere in NewYork and was very friendly.

What did I buy?

Well we all bought quite a bit, but my favourite was not French at all, but a Bloomsbury treasure:

Hyde Park Gate News: The Stephen Family Newspaper

The Hyde Park Gate News, the published version of the in-house newspaper created by Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and their brother Thoby Stephens.  I have read excerpts of this before, but what a treat that it has been published in its entirety!

You can buy yours here.  I am just pouring through this now and it is great fun!  I am a huge Bloomsbury fanatic, so that was a real treat!

I know - Shakespeare and Co. is now a tourist destination.  I don't care.  It is a bookstore, and a good one at that, and I am totally besotted with good bookstores!!!

Have a wonderful day!


  1. I fell flat on my face in that shop, but even worse I thought hubs was behind me so I just started laughing and lay there waiting on him to help me up - no one came - he was in another part of the shop but two women were just standing looking at me - swines!

    1. Oh Tabs how horrid to go splat with no knight in shining at hand, just a couple of haughty femmes. That would be my instant flashback to HS horrors. WMM, never apologize for books or travel, no matter how much of a pilgrimage they are ;-) Lovely that your hotel was so convenient. And if you ever happen to be in Holland, there's a ancient, vaulted church that's been converted to a bookstore. Toronto's Runnymede Theatre that's been converted to a Chapters doesn't really compare, but you can check it out here >

    2. Tabs- you made me laugh out loud - that is a Wendy thing to have happen - I am such a klutz!!!!

      Getfresh - I have not been to that bookstore will check it out! Victoria has a great one in an old bank, or at least they used, I think it is called Munroe books!

      I am crazy about bookstores! When I am done by decade at E. dehellerin, I will move on to a bookstore or library. I once worked at our university library. That was okay, but not quite as exciting as it was some many textbooks and dry academic tomes. I am getting giddy just thinking about a bookstore!

    3. SPIRITUAL HOMES WMM,okay after French cookware and bookstores (hope not all USB keys and e-books by then) where will we go next in after-life journey? If I had a travel blog, great bookstores/ libraries would definitely be one of my "5 Things," although it would be hard to choose just a handful.

    4. I think I would do a decade at the cathedral in Cologne, Germany! Oh wait - I will also be a gardener. Anywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!

    5. Just popping in again to note your (cheerful) "Blue Period" has been ahead of the curve. Third cobalt fall story I've seen this week >

    6. Well me and Oprah!!! Too funny!

  2. I also love bookstores and libraries, WMM! I could spend hours upon hours in either one. This one is on my list if/when I make it to Paris. Thank you for sharing your experience and photos with us! :)


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