“Why would I want to go to an English language bookstore in Paris?” I had thought. After all, I had my Gibert Joseph on Boulevard Saint-Michel for blissful French book browsing (& buying). So I didn’t visit Shakespeare & Co. until after several previous visits to Paris. Even then it was only because we had spare time before a Chopin concert at nearby Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre.
I wasn’t surprised by the floor to ceiling books & books spilling out from every nook...But the courtyard (that looked like it was dressed up for a fête), & the colorful facade, they were not at all what I had expected!
At the top of the dark narrow stairs, an enchanting surprise!
Messages posted on the wall (& on the ceiling too!) of a children's alcove, in so many languages & so many alphabets! "Never be afraid to love & be loved." I HEART books." A mishmash of incredibly positive expressions!
Piano music had been floating through the 2nd floor. I followed it to find a young person playing, so beautifully! And, in the next room there was a poetry reading in progress!! I'd read some of the history & lore around Shakespeare & Co. so I knew it had always been more than just a bookstore. Still, I hadn't expected what I'd walked into!On my last trip in April, 2 years after the 1st visit, I ducked into Shakespeare & Co. to get warm. I headed right for the message board. "This is the best place I've been in my whole life!!" & "I feel alive every time I see Paris. I've never seen this shop but it's like stepping into another world." ...& one of my favorites: "I thought I loved nothing more than books & writing 'til I met my wife. I still love books though..."
Voilà. A bit of magic. Stepping into "another world." And then, you get to step back out into Paris!