The Legendary Shakespeare & Co, Paris

Shakespeare and Co Paris Seine

Sometimes, every now and then, you come across a place which touches you in some way. It can be anything, an interesting building or a curious little coffee shop… For me, one of these special places is Shakespeare & Co, the dusty second-hand bookshop along the banks of la Seine in Paris.

It’s small, and the books have seen better days, but it’s enchanting; you feel like Alice in Wonderland. The history of this little bookshop transports you and it’s hard not to be swept up in its stories…

Founded in August 1951 by the late George Whitman, the shop is set in the very heart of the French capital on the Left Bank opposite Notre-Dame (another location of magic and mystery). George had spent several years travelling in South America where he was moved by the hospitality of locals who would feed and accommodate him willingly. From this moment he decided he too would create a sanctuary for writers, artists and aspiring talent in the form of a bookshop. Inviting guests into his home, over 50,000 heads have slept on the pillows at Shakespeare and Company many sharing tea and pancakes with George such as Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell and Allen Ginsberg.

The best thing about this little bookshop full of tales and talent are the stories you can find directly on the bookshelves. It’s not impossible to be leafing through a James Baldwin only to discover the author has signed it to the bookshop! Today the bookshop is home to an array of events such as poetry readings, concerts, lectures and bilingual readings; you can find out more on their website but more importantly in the shop itself.

So the next time you’re passing through the City of Love, take a moment to unglue your eyes from the stunning Cathédrale Notre-Dame and look to the other side of the river, to a smaller sight with a less impressive façade but just as much mystery and delight to be found inside its walls…

Shakespeare & Co, 37 rue de la Bûcherie 75005 (Metro Saint-Michel)

Shakespeare and Co Paris Seine

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