Paris loves its book shops, just think of those green book boxes that line the River Seine. Known as the bouquinistes de Paris the 217 book sellers have 900 boxes between them containing 30,000 books! These open air book stalls that line the walls of the offer the perfect opportunity for wandering and flicking through second-hand books and absorbing the history and culture of the city.
If you’re a bibliomaniac (someone with an enthusiasm for book collecting!) or bookworm – then Paris has plenty to keep you happy, including several English language book stores.
Three brilliant book nooks in Paris
Shakespeare & Company
One of the most famous and much loved English language book stops in the city luring visitors from around the world to browse amongst the heaving book shelves. It even made an appearance in Woody Allen’s film “Midnight in Paris”. A stone’s throw from Notre Dame, a Wallace Fountain in front, a cute little café on the corner with fabulous views, I like it best at night (and it opens really late) when the fairy lights glow. Though this is not the original location for the shop in the days when Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald perused the stock, it continues to win smitten fans with its mellow, quaint look and feel, it’s awesome literary connections and fabulous choice of old and new books.
37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 5th Arr; shakespeareandcompany.com; Metro: Saint-Michel; Open 10am – 11pm.
Smith & Son The English Bookshop in Paris
After an absence of more than 20 years, the tea room of this most English of book shops reopened in 2016 in its prime position on the corner of Rue de Rivoli and Rue Cambon, a short distance from the Louvre.
Smith & Son, formerly WHSmith & Co. opened here in 1903 and for expats in France, it’s a true taste of home, in fact it was like walking into my local branch in Bromley High Street when I recently visited! The only things that are not the same are the prices (it’s more expensive) and the sales staff have French accents though they all seem to speak excellent English. And, there’s a very nice tea room run by that most British of Tea companies, Twinings! Nip up to the first floor for a pot of tea, lunch or afternoon tea with traditional scones and jam! In the past umpteen celebrities have enjoyed tea here in this little oasis away from the busy streets outside. There’s a great selection of books, newspapers and magazines, and it’s open 362 days a year!
248 rue de Rivoli, 1st Arr; whsmith.fr; Metro: Concorde; Opens 9h30 – 19h30 Monday to Saturday, 12.30 – 19.30 Sunday.
Berkeley Books of Paris opened for business in May 2006 when three Californians who had worked together at a nearby bookstore decided to team up and open their own place. Popular with American visitors, it has a great range of used books (English language), you can swap, buy, stroke the shop’s cat and enjoy concerts, readings and exhibitions from time to time.
8, rue Casimir Delavigne 6th Arr; Closed Mondays 12 – 8 Tuesday – Saturday, 2 – 8 Sunday; Metro: Odeon berkeleybooksofparis.org
More book stuff
4 more brilliant bookstores in Paris
The Bouquinistes de Paris – historic second hand book sellers with a UNESCO tag!
The history of Shakespeare & Co. in Paris
The discovery of a priceless Shakespeare book worth countless millions in a municipal library in rural France!