Shakespeare and Company: One of the world's most storied bookshops

06 Apr 2024
Nestled in the heart of Paris, just a stone's throw away from the Seine and with a view that possibly made even the sternest of French philosophers crack a smile, lies Shakespeare and Company. It's not just a bookstore; it's a bibliophile's Narnia, a literary lover's wonderland. Imagine if books had their own version of a five-star spa resort; this would be it. Cozy, cramped, and utterly charming, this incarnation of Shakespeare and Company has been a haven for bookworms since 1951 - after taking its name from the original shop, opened by Sylvia Beach in 1919 (closed in 1941).

Now, don't go thinking this is your run-of-the-mill, pick-up-a-best-seller sort of place. Oh no, Shakespeare and Company is where books, the kind with dog-eared pages and whispers of past readers between the lines, come to find their forever homes. It's got history, it's got character, and it's got more stories in its nooks and crannies than your grandma's attic. This is where the Lost Generation found themselves, where the Beat Generation banged out their frustrations on typewriters, and where you, yes you, can find that obscure first edition you've been searching for since your teenage years.
Shakespeare and Company © esartee, Flickr CC2.0

But it's not just about the books. It's about the experience. Imagine lounging on one of the worn-in chairs or perhaps finding a quiet corner to curl up in, reading to your heart's content. It's more than encouraged; it's practically a rite of passage. The store has been a temporary home to thousands of 'Tumbleweeds' - wandering writers and artists who exchanged a bit of work for a night amongst the stacks. Yes, quite literally sleeping in the bookstore, surrounded by literary greats, both past and present.

All jesting aside, Shakespeare and Company is a cultural landmark, a testament to the timeless allure of books and the enduring spirit of those who love them. Visiting it is like stepping into a story, where every shelf holds a potential adventure, every book a new world to explore. In the bustling city of Paris, it stands as a reminder of the magic that can be found in the quiet moments, the subtle beauty of a well-loved book, and the indescribable pleasure of discovering a story that feels like it was written just for you.


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