My mother, sister and I love nothing more when we travel than to explore the bookshops in our new destination. Used bookstores are always our favorite and if they happen to have English books, well, that’s the very best way we three can imagine spending an afternoon.
Paris has a number of lovely, quaint bookshops all over the city. Some specialize in antique and hard-to-find or second-hand books, others offer the latest releases. I have a propensity for the former and as such have created a list here of my favorites. I’ve thrown in, for good measure, all the other stores in Paris, to my knowledge, which sell English books.
Most of these shops are open from Monday to Saturday from around 10-7; some are open seven days a week. Check the websites below for more details.
I hope this proves to be a useful guide for your next trip to Paris!
The Red Wheelbarrow
22 Rue St-Paul, 4ème
Tel: 01 48 04 75 08
Metro: St-Paul or Pont Marie
Walking into this shop in Paris’ Marais quartier, you feel like you’ve entered someone’s home library. The friendly service and wide range of stock, including a children’s section, makes this bookshop a favorite.
Shakespeare & Company
37 Rue de la Bucherie, 5ème
Tel: 01 43 26 96 50
One of the longest standing English bookshops in Paris, Shakespeare & Company is certainly the most famous. The current owner’s father, George Whitman, was ceded the name when Sylvia Beach’s bookshop, infamous as the original publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses and intimate of Ernest Hemingway, closed down after the Great War. Since 1951, this second-hand bookshop has developed into a tourist attraction in itself. S&C has a second store beside the main shop that sells antique and hard-to-find books. Throughout the year the upstairs floor is used for writing clubs, author readings and discussion groups.
The Abbey Bookshop
29 Rue de la Parcheminerie, 5ème
Tel: 01 46 33 16 24
Metro: St-Michel or Cluny-La Sorbonne
Canadian owned and run by Brian Spence, this two-storey quaint independent bookshop in Paris’ Latin Quarter specializes in new and used books both in English and French. Throughout the year The Abbey Bookshop organizes a number of events including author readings, discussions, and the like.
6 Rue Princesse, 6ème
Tel: 01 46 33 36 47
The owner of Village Voice, Odile Hellier, sells new English books which focus on literature, culture, politics, and contemporary social issues. They host regular readings by international authors.
Tea & Tattered Pages
24 Rue Maynet, 6ème
Tel: 01 40 65 94 35
As a tea room and bookshop in one, this little shop is rather hidden away on a tiny street in Paris’ Saint-Germain quartier. Browsers are free to look around the books and then enjoy a tea with a slice of homemade apple pie.
San Francisco Book Company
17 rue Monsieur le Prince, 6ème
Tel: 01 43 29 15 70
This large bookstore near the site of the original Shakespeare & Company offers a wide range of used English books. They also buy books on a book by book basis.
The Book Cellar
23, rue Jean de Beauvais, 5ème
Tel: 01 46 34 62 03
Much like the other quaint bookshops on this list, The Book Cellar offers a selection of English books along with a wide range of French literature.
Berkeley Books of Paris
8, rue Casimir Delavigne, 6ème
Tel: 01 46 34 85 73
WH Smith Paris
248 rue de Rivoli, 1er
Tel: 01 44 77 88 99
Metro: Tuileries or Concorde
As one of Paris’ largest English book stores, WH Smith makes up for what it lacks in charm with its undeniable selection. They specialize in all genres of new books and magazines.
Rue de Rivoli, 1er
Tel: 01 42 60 76 07
Metro: Tuileries or Concorde
Galignani’s bookstore prides itself on being the first English language bookstore on the continent (in Europe). In a lovely wooden parlor atmosphere, they offer a wide selection of English language books. Throughout the year they host a number of prominent English and French authors for readings and discussion. Galignani’s also has a large online presence and in-store ordering system for hard-to-find books.
10, place St-Michel, 6ème
Tel: 01 43 25 91 19
www.gibertjoseph.com/livres.html Metro: St-Michel, St-Michel Notre-Dame
This is the primary bookstore for French and student books in Paris. They also sell, however, a large selection of English books. If you are a French language student in Paris, this is where you will need to go to buy your cahiers and texts for class. With several stores lining Blvd Saint-Michel, you can find DVDs, CDs and books all in one place. (As an aside, FNAC, France’s answer to Best Buy or Future Shop, also offers a large range of English books, DVDs and CDs.)
106 bd Richard Lenoir, 11ème
Tel: 01 55 28 80 14
Metro: Oberkampf or Parmentier
ATTICA is a bookstore of language studies which has specialized in all language skill material for the last 30 years. They offer the largest selection of such books and teaching materials in Europe with over 30,000 references in more than 200 languages.