The Best Bookshops in Paris

February 11, 2013 by

Best Of Lists, Things To Do

Best Bookshops in Paris photo courtesy of Craig Finlay on Flickr

Best Bookshops in Paris photo courtesy of Craig Finlay on Flickr

You may have forsaken the printed word for your iPad screen; perhaps the books in your home now serve as doorstops. But spend even a short amount of time in Paris, and you’ll see that reading books in cafes is a Parisian stereotype for a reason. If all those gorgeous people with their noses buried in books has inspired you, then you should find what you’re looking for in one of these fantastic bookshops in Paris.

Shakespeare and Company

This legendary independent bookstore on the Left Bank is what you see in your mind when you dream about moving to Paris and working in a bookshop – ceiling-to-floor, books are crammed into every possible nook and cranny and even flow out onto its small terrace in low rolling shelves. If you can’t find a book in here, then just go back to reading Twitter.

Read more about the Shakespeare and Co book store

Gibert Joseph

If you’re in the Latin Quarter you’ll soon come to recognize Gibert Joseph’s iconic yellow awnings protecting rows of books outside. While their “foreign language” (read: Anglophone) section is not the best, it’s worth a visit to see where school children and university students go to get their notebooks, pens and supplies – and where parents buy their famous cardboard calendars, which detail school closings and national holidays. Pick one up for your own home – it’s actually a great planning calendar, which a bit of French flair.

The Seine

No, there is not a bookshop named after the river. But the “bouquinistes,” the vendors selling books and prints from their green metal stalls affixed to the quai walls, are irresistible. Although you should ask to take photos – some of them can get notoriously grouchy about that – the vendors welcome browsers and obviously adore buyers. Pick up a used copy of The Little Prince in French, an antique postcard, or an old magazine to frame.

I Love My Blender

Perhaps the quirkiest-named store in Paris, this equally quirky bookstore sells French and English versions of Anglophone books from all English-speaking countries side-by-side. Christophe, the owner, also has an impressive children’s book collection, and sells funky tchotchkes he hand-picks himself.


The Gutenberg Bible was printed in the 1450s. Not even 70 years later – in 1520 – Galignani became the first English-language bookshop in Europe, printing its own copies of books using that new-fangled moveable type. Today it is a Parisian institution, and goes out of their way to accommodate their customers; they promise to order and ship any book they do not have in stock.

Tea & Tattered Pages

While the name seems impossibly precious, it’s actually an accurate description of what to expect – second-hand English-language books and a tea room that invites some serious lingering. Make sure to pet the tabby cat as you peruse their non-fiction section in the basement, and pick up some good finds in support of this true gem of independence in an increasingly corporate world.

- Contributed by Christine Cantera

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