Bookshops of the World, Vol. 4: English Bookshops in Paris
Paris is full of bookshops. Even better for continental expats and anglophones alike, Paris has its fair share of English bookshops. Sure everyone knows Shakespeare and Company and, for some reason, the giant W.H. Smith on Rue de Rivoli, but I personally prefer others. My absolute favorite bookshop for new English books is Galignani. The first English bookshop on the European continent, it's very conveniently located across from the Tuileries and next to Angelina (making my teen self very happy). It's a beautiful shop with an even more beautiful selection, full not only of novels but of incredible art books, both in French and in English. I can easily spend hours browsing through all it has to offer, and I have yet to leave the shop without something in hand (this time, Edith Wharton's A Backward Glance... which amusingly enough mentions the Galignani Press).
This past trip to Paris, my partner and I set out to widen our bookshop horizons. Galignani was our first stop (a birthday treat), but we also tried a few other shops. Here are our finds:
The Abbey Bookshop 29 Rue de la Parcheminerie, 75005 Paris, France +33 1 46 33 16 24 (website)
Located in the Quartier Latin, the Abbey Bookshop is a Canadian shop filled with both new and used books. We asked a friend whether he wanted to come to the shop with us, and he replied that he was almost scared to enter it because of photos he's seen, and I can't say that I blame him. The shop is inarguably difficult to navigate. Bookshelves swivel, aisles are very narrow, and piles reach up to the ceiling. Still, it's a very charming shop, worth the experience of visiting alone.
San Francisco Books 17 Rue Monsieur le Prince, 75006 Paris, France, +33 1 43 29 15 70 (website)
One of my two favorite new finds of the trip, San Francisco Books primarily stocks new books and has a great selection. Though its classic literature section only covers one wall of the shop (albeit with double stacked shelves), the shop still had a decent amount of shelf space dedicated to Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf, so I was a very happy shopper. I even managed to find a paperback copy of a library book I've had out for months.
Berkeley Books 8 Rue Casimir Delavigne, 75006 Paris, France, +33 1 46 34 85 73 (website)
Located near San Francisco Books, Berkeley Books was my absolute favorite discovery of the trip. The shop is charming and stocks mostly used and rare books. We had a wonderful time browsing its shelves, and I found a book about John Singer Sargent and Madame X while my partner found a pristine copy of a book on Old English that he had been searching for. I can't wait to visit next time we're in Paris!
Shakespeare and Company. 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France, +33 1 43 25 40 93 (website)
The thing with Shakespeare and Company is that it's a great cultural center but a wildly pretentious and obnoxious place that doesn't live up to its reputation. Still, it's well-stocked with recent releases (even though when I asked for the Carmen Maria Machado short story collection, they had no idea who I was talking about even though there turned out to be a pile of her books sitting on their table) so it's still tempting to visit. Just make sure you do so at night – it closes at 10 p.m., so going late is a good way to avoid the crowds. We walked by midday on our way to the Sainte-Chapelle one day this trip, and there was a literal queue to get enter the shop.
For any Parisian readers, feel free to share your favorites in the comments below!