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Bookshops in Paris, France (new and used!)

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

I can’t believe I haven’t done a post on the English-language bookshops of Paris before!

I searched this blog (yes, I wrote all of it, but I’ve a mind like a sieve this days) and only came up with one post on Berkeley Books of Paris. So here’s a little list I’ve compiled:

Second-hand bookstores:

San Francisco Book Company
17 rue Monsieur le Prince
Paris, 75006
(near métro Odéon)

Excellent selection of literature, fiction, poetry, philosophy, history. They also have a very large selection of pocketbooks: literature, fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, etc.

Berkeley Books of Paris
8, rue Casimir Delavigne
Paris, 75006
(near métro Odéon)

Excellent selection of literature, fiction and poetry.

Tea & Tattered Pages
24 rue Mayet,
Paris 75006
(Métro Duroc)

You hear about this one constantly: it’s mentioned in every guide and tourist website. I went once, six years ago and was completely unimpressed. Not only were the books tattered, they were downright grubby. And it was all bestsellers and mainstream fiction. (Wow, do I ever sound like a snob!) I should go again and see what they’re like now.

New books:

Village Voice Bookshop
6, rue Princesse
Paris, 75006
(near métro Odéon)

Excellent selection of new, English-language books; primarily literature, fiction and poetry. Respectable selection of history, philosophy, art, psychology, etc. The owner, Odile Hellier, tells a moving story on this page about the history of the shop.

Galignani
224, rue de Rivoli
Paris, 75001
(Métro Tuileries)

A very good selection of literature, fiction, poetry, history, philosophy, art books, politics, Paris guides… “Best Atmosphere” award. Lovely shelves. When you get to the literature section in the back, look up! (Especially nice on a rainy day.) And peek through the glass door into the little office just before the philosophy section — I want to move in there.

[Also, don’t miss their website! There’s a nice little intro, then when you click on Enter you get a little film of the interior. Turn up your speaker volume. It’s a love song to books. The camera caresses the hardwood shelves, reels from the overwhelming selection. As the string section builds, I feel a swoon coming on. I tear up, it is… too much. I must lie in a darkened room for the rest of the afternoon with a cool handkerchief on my forehead. (And I’ve been there a hundred times.) Try not to drool on the keyboard. To the right of the movie is a fascinating history of the shop. Now that’s a pedigree.]

Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore
22, rue St Paul
Paris, 75004
(métro St Paul)

I haven’t been there in years, but I seem to remember they had a good selection.

W.H. Smith
248, rue de Rivoli
Paris, 75001
(métro Concorde)

I am including them for the sake of thoroughness, but not because I like them. It’s a chain bookshop, the staff are usually quite rude and their prices are frequently higher than any of the other new-books bookshops. They are, of course, more mainstream. Their literature section is an embarrassment (for us and them); and to insult further, they keep shuffling the section around the shop to make way for Christmas cards or a monster display of dieting books. Anyhow, I have to admit they do have a larger non-fiction than most and their magazine selection can’t be beat. They even have the National Enquirer for around nine euros. I can’t believe anyone bothered.

Added 7 hours later…

Both new and used books:

The Abbey Bookshop
29, rue de la Parcheminerie
75005 Paris

I haven’t been to this one in ages. All I remember is that it’s a mix of new and used and that the owner is Canadian. So, if you’re desperate for a copy of Canada’s version of the New York Times — known affectionately to its employees as “The Mop and Pail” and to the public at large as “The Globe and Mail” — this is the place for you.

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