The bookstore, Shakespeare and Co, was actually named after the original store that opened in 1919 by Sylvia Beach and it was a hangout for famous literary giants such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. The second store was opened in 1951 by George Whitman and is located at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie on the left bank. Thousands of aspiring writers have stayed (slept) at this iconic bookstore, getting free accommodation in exchange for a few hours working at the store.
Literally crammed with books everywhere, you can barely get around or upstairs. The store carries many English books, so if you’re worn out trying to read French and just want to immerse yourself in a good book, check out their selection.
When I visited, a free book reading was going to take place, so I returned later in the week, grabbed a chair inside and listened to a British author read excerpts from his book and discuss how young people were being deprived of good jobs.
It’s a very unique place that truly promotes the community of writers. There are not only book talks but also workshops and a literary festival. Readings are held upstairs, in the front room, or even outside (weather permitting). But capacity is between 30-50 people, so you need to get there early.
In 2015, Shakespeare and Co opened a coffee shop right next door serving coffee, tea, juice and organic, vegetarian dishes. The coffee is sourced locally, the tea is from London, and the baked goods are from a local Parisian bakery.
The bookstore has been featured in a number of movies including, “Before Sunset” and “Midnight In Paris”.