Along the Seine, a stones throw away from Notre Dame lies one of the oldest and most humble English book stores in Paris. This bookstore has a fairy tale history; the original shop was owned and run by an American, Sylvia Beach but was closed down by the Nazis during the war and became the meeting point for Hemingway’s “Lost Generation.” It was then taken over in 1951 by George Whitman and moved to its current location on rue de la Bucherie seducing artists and writers all over the globe.
There are all sorts of benches and tables to sit outside and “Paris Wall Newspaper” written on chalkboard:
Even when it was run by Beach, it not only served as bookshop library but also served as post office to expatriates, and as bank to destitute writers. In the back of the shop a door led Beach’s friends and guests to a kitchenette fully equipped with a gas stove and running water. Next to it was a small bed she kept to accommodate artists, far away from home, who needed a warm place to stay for the night.
To this day the store holds her legacy, and at night its couches turn into beds where writers stay for free in exchange for working in the store.
In this room, an old piano sits ensconced amidst piles of books that seem to even creep out of the stained glass window bay:
Walking into the store you can’t help but be drawn into this warm, intimate and whimsical space, with stacks of books from every genre filling every nook and cranny. This is truly a gem in Paris.
Shakespeare & Co. also get an award for best website with its collage style effect atop an antiqued mirror: