It's an institution this storied bookstore on the Left Bank that I finally had a chance to visit... just across the street from Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company is not only a trove of new and used English language literature, but also an intimate reading space and temporary home to aspiring writers (in exchange for a few hours of work). Once inside, it feels you've intruded onto someone's cramped but much loved labyrinth of a library,... and you want nothing but to sit back and stay the day reading.
Originally named Le Mistral by the founder, the late American expatriate George Whitman, it was renamed Shakespeare and Company as a tribute to the original bookstore with the same utopian spirit established by Sylvia Beach in 1910, the one beloved by writers of the Lost Generation, including Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Weaving your way through the tiny rooms of wall-to-wall books, you can hear the whispers of all the souls that have passed through the space.
Shakespeare and Company has become an obligatory place to visit in Paris, one I'll be returning to often to appease my reading list. When visiting, do come right when it opens though... I took these photos a few minutes after, and as soon as I stepped back outside (after buying a used Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and Ernest Hemingway ON Paris), a large tour group had already begun to crowd the entrance.
Address: 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 (5th arrondisement)
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am - 11pm, Sun 11am-11pm