Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paris~ Shakespeare & Co Bookstore

“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!
I watched a young teen write & post her note. “Sometimes you got to forgive & forget. Long live me & my friends.”  It sparked memories of notes & letters profusely exchanged between me, the young teen, & my friends.  And how about  those peace & Yin Yang signs? When I looked at this photo once back home, I discovered (on the right side) a Polish "Legitymacja Szkolna", a school document of a young Polish woman. I was deeply touched, but that is another story...
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!


  1. If I 'hit' this bookstore, I'd miss that concert. These shops have a strange pull for me.

  2. Rita, I read about this bookstore when I was still in Canada. Ever since then, it's on my list of places I want to visit. Hopefully in the future. Thank you for this post. Now I want to go there even more. Wspaniała księgarnia!
    Oh, and the Polish "legitymacja szkolna" - what a discovery!

  3. Wow, what a magical place! When I go to Paris, I definitely want to visit this special store & leave my own positive message on the board. I'm so glad you got to go here -- thanks, as always, for sharing your French adventures with us. They are much appreciated.

  4. Nice post. I was there with my wife two years ago and it inspired me to set up my own bookstore in Manila :-)


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