Galignani Bookstore

February 23, 2012 by

Sightseeing, Things To Do, Top Attractions, Travel Tips

Printer in 1568

Galignani has been around since the invention of the Printing Press.

Living history and written history, the famous Parisian bookshop Galignani has both. With family roots going back to the first printing presses in Venice in the 16th century when Simone Galignani published a Latin grammar book, Galignani has been an important name for books since they became mass produced.

There has been a Galignani bookshop in Paris since 1801, also a publishing business and a reading room for books and newspapers in English. They created Galignani’s Messenger, a daily English-language paper and help for tourists – sadly no longer in existence. But the quality of this paper and the importance of Galignani is shown by the fact that writers contributing included Lord Byron, the poet Wordsworth and novelists Thackeray and Scott. In 1856 the shop moved to a large elegantly arched building at 224, Rue de Rivoli, near the Louvre and across the road from the Tuileries Gardens, and that’s where you still find it today, still in the hands of the Galignani family. The huge wooden shelves hold 50,000 English-language books specializing in fine art and fashion books, and what they haven’t got, they’ll order in for you and ship home so you don’t have to carry it.

I love places like this, where you can go and feel at home, share a passion for history, beauty, travel and books with people who speak your language – especially in Paris which can be a lonely place if you don’t speak French. And even if you’re not book buying on your travels, go and look at the Galignani windows, their displays are famous and they get the best such as items from the Hermes archives and other fashion houses, or they’ll let loose a chef to decorate the place. You’ll see why the place is such an icon and such a magnet for travelers.

Philippa Burne

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