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Paris for Bookworms: Bookstores, Libraries & Literary Haunts

City Guide October 2, 2023

 

 

Welcome, my fellow bookworm, to the city of Paris. When we hear of Paris, many words and ideas come to mind. This is a city where literature intertwines with the very essence of its cobblestone streets.

As you find yourself in the city, you’ll find yourself treading along in the footsteps of the literary giants and breathing the same air that once inspired their works. So welcome to the city that nurtured the creative spirits of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and countless others and eagerly awaits your exploration.

We’re here to embark on a literary pilgrimage around the city and discover some of the best libraries and English bookstores in Paris. This will be an enchanting journey as we unravel the stories and wisdom within these literary havens' pages.

Many places we’ll visit in this piece are tiny and cramped, so make sure you have enough space to roam around by leaving your bags behind. With Nannybag, you can safely store your bags for only €6 per bag per day, and you can have luggage storage for a day in Paris. Download the mobile app, book your nearest location, drop off, and voilà!

 

Shakespeare & Company

Located in the famous Latin Quarter, this iconic English-language bookstore has been a haven for writers and book lovers since 1919. This is one of the more popular shops in town so you might encounter a little queue and it might be a little packed if you go during a peak hour or weekend.

They offer many new and used books, including many rare editions. Don't miss the opportunity to get your book stamped with the famous Shakespeare and Company logo or to purchase their iconic tote bag.

Address: 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris

Closest Metro Stop: Saint-Michel - Notre-Dame (Line 4)

Hours: Open daily from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM

 

 

Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France)

This is the country's national library. It houses an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, maps, and other interesting documents. The François-Mitterrand site in the 13th arrondissement is imposing, with its modern architecture and vast reading rooms.

A visit to this library is free and worth adding to the itinerary. Don’t feel like you must see it all— this site is huge!

Address: Quai François Mauriac, 75013 Paris

Closest Metro Stop: Bibliothèque François Mitterrand (Line 14, RER C)

Hours: Opening hours vary depending on the site and department. It is recommended to check the official website for up-to-date information.

 

San Francisco Book Company

Founded in 1997, the book company is a hidden gem in the Odeon area of the Left Bank in Paris and offers a wide and curated selection of secondhand books. The store is tiny but packed with so many books you won’t leave empty-handed. You’ll certainly lose track of time in there. If you’re interested in purchasing a specific book, contact them; they’re more than happy to make your literary dreams come to fruition.

Address: 17 Rue Monsieur le Prince, 75006 Paris

Closest Metro Stop: Odéon (Lines 4, 10)

Hours: Open daily from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM (Closed on Sundays)

 

 

Musée de la Vie Romantique

Nestled in the 9th arrondissement, this enchanting museum pays homage to the literary and artistic movement sweeping Europe in the 19th century. Explore the paintings and sculptures that once belonged to a romantic era. Who knows, maybe you’ll leave with some inspiration after resonating with the words of Victor Hugo, George Sand, and other literary icons. But you’ll gain a deeper connection to the artistic and literary legacy of the Romantic movement after paying a visit.

Address: 16 Rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris

Closest Metro Stop: Pigalle (Lines 2, 12) or Saint-Georges (Line 12)

Hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM (Closed on Mondays)

 

Abbey Bookshop

This is another cozy English bookstore you can find in Paris. It is filled with shelves overflowing with new and second-hand books. You’re sure to find a treasure or two in here.

Explore a Paris for book lovers as you lose yourself in the aisles, engage in literary conversations, and let your imagination roam freely. If you’re looking for a specific book, check their website. It’s updated regularly to let customers know what’s in stock.

Address: 29 Rue de la Parcheminerie, 75005 Paris

Closest Metro Stop: Cluny - La Sorbonne (Line 10)

Hours: Open Monday to Saturday from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM (Closed on Sundays)

 

Librairie Galignani

Dating back to 1801, we have Librarie Galignani. Filled with rich history, this is a haven for book lovers. Librairie Gaglignani holds a selection of Anglo-American books and French and international Fine Arts departments, so there’s something for everyone! Even the shelves in this place hold history (they date back to the 1930’s!)

Address: 224 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris

Closest Metro Stop: Tuileries (Line 1)

Hours: Open daily from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM (Closed on Sundays)

 

 

Maison de Victor Hugo

Immerse yourself in the world of notorious author Victor Hugo, the author of Les Miserables, at Maison de Victor Hugo. Located in the Place de Vosges, the Maison de Victor Hugo allows you to explore the carefully curated rooms in which he wrote most of his literary works. The museum organizes lectures and workshops and has a rich library that is open to the public but an appointment is necessary.

Address: 6 Place des Vosges, 75004 Paris

Closest Metro Stop: Bastille (Lines 1, 5, 8)

Hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM (Closed on Mondays)

 

L’Hôtel (Formerly Hôtel d’Alsace)

Formerly Oscar Wilde’s last home, this 5-star hotel in Saint-German-des-Pres, is a notorious literary haunt. Wilde famously remarked, “I am dying beyond my means,” during his last days in reference to staying in the hotel.

But his even more famous line was his last, where he said, “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go”. We’re sure the wallpaper has changed, but still worth checking out.

Address: 13 Rue des Beaux-Arts, 75006 Paris

Closest Metro Stop: Mabillon (Line 10) or Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Line 4)

Hours: The hotel is open 24/7

 

 

Cafe de Flore

Step into the timeless allure of Cafe de Flore, a legendary Parisian café where literary history comes to life. This establishment has welcomed countless authors, poets, and intellectuals from Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus to Ernest Hemingway. Even today, Cafe de Flore remains a gathering place for philosophical discussions and intellectual exchanges. Consider signing up on Meetup for events here and meet fellow bookworms in the city as you sip on a coffee or, as we like to call it, “brain juice.”

Address: 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris

Closest Metro Stop: Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Line 4)

Hours: Open daily from 7:30 AM to 2:00 AM

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