I was recently at the American embassy taking care of some paperwork when I decided to hop by the neighboring bookstore WH Smith to see what they might have new on their shelves. Those of you who know Paris, might know that WH is where many of us locals get our newly released English books. It doesn’t have quite the charm as Shakespeare & Company on the left bank nor the quantity of used books, but so near the embassy and right at the Place de Concorde, its two floors are filled with new releases, magazines, travel guides, English as a second language manuals – anything you could imagine in a bookstore back home.
This last time when I popped by, however, I was in for a treat!
Back in the 1980s, WH had a café on the second floor of their store. A place where you could order a coffee or tea, have a bite and peruse through your new or soon-to-be new purchases. It had already been replaced by a non-fiction section by the time I moved here in 2007. To my great delight, they have refurbished the old non-fiction section of the upstairs (all the way right and to the back) into an English tearoom.
And so I had tea. And then a week later when I was once again at the embassy on paper business, I had lunch. Fabulous little spot tucked away in the ceiling beams of Paris with a lovely view of Concorde (almost) and rue de Rivoli.
A long list of gourmet teas awaits you for a relaxing afternoon of reading. Cheese cake, carrot cake, tea sandwiches on those tiered trays will satisfy the petits faims, as they call snacks in France, or a menu of loftier sandwiches, salads, quiches and the like for a real lunch experience.
I found the place just delightful, if not a little modern for my taste. I love the idea of buying a good book and then being right in a place where I can spend some serious time delving in. Plus the service is fabulous and the price, if not a smidge costly for locals, is appropriate – not overly absorbanent – for a tourist location like Concorde/rue de Rivoli.
Worth a go if you happen to find yourself in Paris with an afternoon free !
The tea timers are amusing. I love WH Smith.
Next time I’m in Paris, If I can tear myself away from Shakespeare & Company long enough…
If you love bookshops, you really should visit Montolieu. The small village has over twenty bookshops, paper mills, Museum of Print and so much more.