Shakespeare and Company: A Bookworm’s Utopia

If you have been to Paris, whether you are a book lover or not, you must have visited Shakespeare and Company bookstore near St-Michel. Oh you haven’t? Well you should.

Shakespeare and Company, Paris

37 rue de la Bûcherie, near Place Saint-Michel, just steps from the Seine, Notre Dame and the Île de la Cité

As an ode to Sylvia Beach, an American expat who established the first Shakespeare and Company during the 1920s, George Whitman opened up his own store in 1951. For 60 years George worked tirelessly to ensure that Shakespeare and Company remains not only a venerable independent bookshop, but also a renowned Left Bank cultural institution and a home-away-from-home for many thousands of writers and visitors from around the world. In 2006 he was awarded the Officier des Arts et Lettres by the French Minister of Culture for his lifelong contribution to the arts.

Being a confirmed book lover myself, I made sure to go check this legendary bookstore during my last trip to Paris, and I was not disappointed.

shakespeare and company

Books displayed in front of Shakespeare and Company

The moment you step into the bookstore, you feel like you’re going back in time to an age where books were considered as treasures. You feel like going into a sanctuary. Every item in this bookstore belongs to a previous era: an old chair, a writing machine, an old phone, a piano… Everything in there breathes history.

Next to the first boutique, there is a second one called “Shakespeare and Co Antiquarian books” where rare books – including many first editions – are showcased.

 Antiquarian books at Shakespeare & Company Paris

The reflection of Notre Dame Cathedral is visible in the windows. The board contains a treatise written by store owner George Whitman.

Pictures are not allowed inside. Here are some photos I found online:

Shakespeare and Company photo

by Visualist Images

Inside shakespeare and co

by Toshio Kishiyama

Shakespeare and Company has been featured in many articles about the most beautiful bookstores in the world. I really hope that modernization won’t reach this place.

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6 Responses to Shakespeare and Company: A Bookworm’s Utopia

  1. I was in Paris last September, and intentionally looked for Shakespeare and Co. Fortunately, it’s not a hard place to find. I loved it! I wouldn’t mind volunteering my time working in the bookstore to be able to stay in one of the upstairs room…both would have been fantastic! I got three books from Shakespeare and Co. and made sure the clerk stamped them with the kilometer zero stamp. Very cool!!!

    And I loved Paris, btw…..What a wonderful city! (sigh).

  2. Pingback: Shakespeare & Co, the restaurant | Countless Little Things

  3. Tanisha says:

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this fantastic blog! I guess for now i’ll
    settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to new updates and will share this blog
    with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

  4. Barry says:

    I was a 17 year old in Paris in 1964 – spoke little French and survived by returning empty wine bottles, gathered on the banks of the Seine. Shakespeare and Co.took me in and let me sleep among the books in return for a little cleaning and tidying up. I stayed again briefly in 1968 – the mood of generosity and the landscape of books made a lasting impression. Now in my 70’s, my house is a kind of tribute to the bed/book combo.

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