|The Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris|
Photo courtesy of Beggs via Flickr
Nothing gives me a kick more than the sight and smell of books, and bookstores are at the top of the list. When I saw this quaint little bookstore in Paris I decided to collect all the beautiful photos in a post.
Situated at the heart of the city, at the Latin Quarter near the Seine and offering a view of the Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company is a booklover's paradise. A delightful combination of nostalgic charm and modern thought, the bookstore is a haven for Parisians as well as English readers and writers. They have a large collection of English books and a staff who all speak Fluent English and who will be glad to help you find whatever book you are looking for, and then recommend some.
The bookshop has a library upstairs where visitors can sit and read, meet fellow travelers and chat in English. The library is also the venue where many readings and writing workshops are held, and in summer writers give talks outside the shop on balmy nights.
But if you find all that charming, wait till you learn about the store's remarkable history. When it first opened in 1913 it offered food and bedding to penniless authors, including James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway who was a regular at the shop. That's why the shop is littered with beds, and since its opening more than 50,000 people have used them, that is when they're not covered with books. Read the detailed history below.
From Winterson's feature in The Guardian, on the remarkable story of the shop:
(In 1913) the original Shakespeare and Company was opened by a young American called Sylvia Beach. Her shop in rue de l'Odéon soon became the place for all the English-speaking writers in Paris. Her lover, Adrienne Monnier, owned the French bookstore across the road, and she and Beach ran back and forth, finding penniless writers a place to stay, lending them books, arranging loans, taking their mail, sending their work to small magazines and, most spectacularly, publishing James Joyce's Ulysses in 1922 when no one else would touch it.
Hemingway was a regular at the shop, and writes about it in his memoir A Moveable Feast. ... It was Hemingway, as a major in the US army, who at the liberation of Paris in 1945 drove his tank straight to the shuttered Shakespeare and Company and personally liberated Sylvia Beach. ...
George (Whitman, who carried on Beach's tradition) took in the beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Henry Miller ate from the stewpot, but was too grand to sleep in the tiny writers' room. Anaïs Nin left her will under George's bed. There are signed photos from Rudolf Nureyev and Jackie Kennedy, signed copies of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.
George opened his doors midday to midnight, and the deal then is the deal now: sleep in the shop, on tiny beds hidden among the bookstacks; work for two hours a day helping out with the running of the place; and, crucially, read a book a day, whatever you like, but all the way through, unless maybe it's War and Peace, in which case you can take two days. ...
At any time there are six or more young people from the compass points of the world, reading, talking, thinking, boiling spaghetti in the kettle, running across the road to the public showers, stacking, carrying, selling, stock-taking, and all in a spirit of energy and enterprise that is not to be found in any chain bookstores. They stay for two weeks or two months, and some just sleep outside on a bench until there's room inside.
Here is a great video of Syliva talking about the bookshop and her life :-)
Shakespeare & Company
37 rue de la Bûcherie
Tel : 00 33 (0) 1 43 25 40 93
Open everyday 10am - 11pm,
except for Saturday and Sunday when it opens at 11am.