Shakespeare and Company
The iconic store has been nestled into this prime position (with its pinch-yourself view of Notre-Dame) since 1951, and a pilgrimage-like destination for lovers of literature, including lauded authors and misty-eyed writers-to-be. (Originally Le Mistral, the shop was reborn after Sylvia Beach gifted founder George Whitman the name of her own legendary bookstore, which had welcomed the likes of Ernest Hemingway back in the 1920s). Aim to be here at opening (10:00 all days except for Sunday, when it’s 12:30), so that you can explore this rabbit’s hole of a store in peace, poking around the old rooms and romantic nooks, all lined with heaving shelves and tottering piles of books that cover all genres. Peruse at leisure, curled up in a chair with a resident cat, and once you’ve chosen a title to buy, get stuck into it at the café next door, along with a slice of the late Whitman’s lemon pie.
37 Rue de la Bûcherie 75005
The Abbey Bookshop
Another popular Anglophone bookstore, The Abbey Bookshop is situated in a gorgeously decorative eighteenth-century town house, in a skinny thirteenth-century street that was once home to the Latin Quarter’s scribes and parchment sellers. The history here is palpable; be inspired to buy a French classic.
29 Rue de la Parcheminerie 75005
Le Pont Traversé
This poetic store has found its unlikely home in a high-society Belle Époque butcher’s — note the golden bull’s heads above the navy boiserie and glossy detailing of the façade, and the old meat hooks still suspended from the ceiling. Fortunately, the aroma is only one of powdery old paper these days. Buy a vintage book that takes your fancy, and inhale it in the nearby Luxembourg Gardens. Note: the store opens from 13:00 most days, until late.
62 Rue de Vaugirard 75006
Selling a mix of English and French titles, from pop-culture hits to classic greats, from novellas to coffee-table tomes, this is the go-to whether you want to find the perfect gift, or the ideal read for your flight home. If you can’t wait to start, take it to Angelina next door, and enjoy with a serving of the salon de thé’s famous velvety-thick hot chocolate.
224 Rue de Rivoli 75001
In the delight that is Galerie Vivienne, you’ll find this equal joy of a bookstore, which has been around almost as long as this 1823 arcade. Fossick through the two cosy, cluttered rooms, making sure to spiral up the old stairs as you do. You’ll find an inspired mix of the old and new, in many languages. An ideal purchase would be anything by Colette; this was the legendary author’s favourite bookstore.
45-46-47 Galerie Vivienne 75002