My 3 Favourite Bookshops in Paris

I think it is now time to conclude my “European Bookshops” trilogy. Previously, I posted a list of My 3 Favourite Bookshops in Brussels and a list of My 3 Favourite Bookshops in London, and I am concluding with this list of My 3 Favourite Bookshops in Paris. Unlike Brussels and London, I have not lived in Paris for an extensive period of time, but have had a number of interesting visits to the city to compile this list of my favourite (maybe obvious, but still) bookstores that I like to go to if I want to read or browse books in English.

Shakespeare and Co PictureI. Shakespeare and Company

This may be a very obvious first choice and a very touristy place, but I still love this charming store whose windows look out on the Notre-Dame Cathedral that is situated opposite. The shop has a great selection of English-language books, and is labyrinthic and cosy. It also has a nice café next door that sells delicious coffee, pastries and store souvenirs. Shakespeare and Co. itself is considered a literary landmark of Paris, founded by George Whitman in 1951. Its twin store, opened in 1919, once hosted such literary giants as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The great thing about Whitman’s store is that it is open until late hours; hosts many literary events that showcase Anglophone writers; and, if you purchase a book there, it will be stamped with a unique Shakespeare and Company Kilometre Zero stamp. The Kilometre Zero of France, or the location from which historically all distances are measured, is located on the square that faces the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

GalignaniII. Librairie Galignani

This beautiful store, which is located on the Rue de Rivoli (next to the Jardin des Tuileries), has a great selection of English-language books (nearly all genres are represented), which it apparently sells since 1801 since the store was founded by a Venetian Giovanni Galignani in the same year. High ceilings, ladders and some vegetation give this place an unusual atmosphere. Although the store has a lovely atmosphere and history to boast about, visitors should be aware that most of the books do carry, if not maximum, than very hefty price tags. 

San Francisco Books and CoIII. San Francisco Book Company

This store was founded by American expats in 1997, and it is the place to go in Paris for bargain books. Though there is little organisation of books inside, it is virtually guaranteed that one will find an interesting book there and its price will be more than affordable. They offer second-hand books in all kinds of genres and subjects, and also provide some new books. Its staff is friendly and helpful. 

There is also a Taschen Store in Paris located at 2 Rue de Buci. Taschen is an art book publisher founded in Germany in 1980 ,and I have a weakness for colourful Taschen books (so far I have Alchemy and Mysticism by Alexander Roob and a book on Bosch, and would love to add to my collection a Taschen book on Hiroshige and The Book of Symbols). Thus, for those who are looking for some great-looking coffee-table or art books to gift, the store may be an ideal place to go. Other French-books-selling stores I want to visit in future include a beautiful and antique Le Pont Traverse and Librairie Delamain.


21 thoughts on “My 3 Favourite Bookshops in Paris

  1. An interesting choice. Do love Taschen on rue de Buci. I stay out of Shakespeare & co. It’s become a bit commercial to my taste. Didn’t know the San Francisco library, though Rue Monsieur le prince is one of my “easy” shortcuts between St-Michel and St-Germain. Will look it up next time.
    Gagliani? Isn’t that where WH Smith used to be? Or is it another shop?
    Thanks for the tips.

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    1. I actually got introduced to Taschen in Brussels in one shop, and cannot now get enough of their beautifully-illustrated publications 🙂 Yes, Galignani is on the same street as WHSmith, they are about four minutes’ walk from each other, I would say.

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      1. Taschen is… out of this world? Such quality in a world of disappearing books?
        I wanted to go to WH Smith this summer, didn’t for lack of time. Didn’t even walk around there. (I took the Tuileries garden instead…) All the more reason to go to both next summer. Thanks Diana.

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  2. I simply love Taschen…I have the Alchemy and Mysticism book and it is a constant source of wonder and inspiration, The Book of Symbols is great as well. Also recommend the Salvador Dali cookbook as it is mind boggling. And The Book of Miracles. Amazing quality at affordable prices, I could go but no use preaching to the converted.

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  3. I live in the US- let me talk about two bookstores I love. Both are in North Carolina, the state I live in.

    Park Road Books- they are incredibly good at recommending books. This is found in Charlotte. Park Road Books is how I came across Spinning Silver and the Shades of Magic trilogy. The most recent book I I bought is The Golden Compass. You literally just tell them books you love, and they tend to lead you to books similar- so far, only been disappointed once.

    Malaprops- Asheville is a very artsy city. At Malaprops- you literally can have a “blind date with a book”. It is a section where some books are wrapped up in brown paper, and all you see are adjectives. You buy the book based on those adjectives.

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    1. Thanks for this introduction to these amazing bookshops, especially Malaprops’ “blind date with a book” sounds exciting – I never bought a book this way, but it is such a great opportunity to read out of one’s comfort zone and discover something completely new, surprising and unexpected!


      1. Malaprops really can be helpful when you are so clueless as to what book you want.

        Park Road Books does the same thing- not the “blind book date”. They do a lot of recommendations based on what you love to read.

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