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A first look at dreamy French bookshop Albertine

Written by
Tiffany Gibert

Francophiles, rejoice: Opening tomorrow, the 27th, this new Upper East Side specialty bookstore will be your one-stop shop for all the Proust, Houellebecq and Colette you could ever want. An initiative of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Albertine is devoted to French works in both English and French and will offer the largest selection of French literature in the United States, with (get ready to swoon) more than 14,000 titles from 30 French-speaking countries. The two-floor space is truly an escapist's dream, with a designated reading room and lush sofas and armchairs, all housed in the French Embassy (a.k.a. the Beaux-Arts Payne Whitney mansion, one of many beautiful NYC buildings).

Antonin Baudry, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy and Albertine's creator, remarks, "Albertine is designed to be a peaceful haven at the edge of Central Park, away from the bustling city, where those passionate about books and culture can immerse themselves in literature and reading in a setting conducive to reflection, inspiration and discussion. We are also looking forward to hosting lively debates and conversations with thinkers that will open minds, challenge taboos, and continue to reinforce the often lively and thrilling French-American relationship."

Named after the iconic love interest in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, Albertine will celebrate its opening with a six-day festival next month, October 14–19. Curated by author Greil Marcus, the festival will highlight both French and American artists, thinkers and tastemakers, like Mad Men's Matthew Weiner, filmmaker and graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi and author Emmanuel Carrère. All the programs are free but require reservations with the Office of French Culture; see the full schedule and reserve your spots here.

Before saying bonjour to Albertine at tomorrow's opening, please sigh over these photos of the newly-finished space, filled with elegant volumes and, of course, a certain je ne sais quoi.

Albertine bookstore. Photo: Jess Nash 

The painted ceiling in Albertine. Photo: Jess Nash 

An intimate reading nook in Albertine. Photo: Jess Nash 

Some of the French language titles Albertine carries. 

972 Fifth Avenue between E 78th and E 79th Sts
Monday–Thursday, Saturday: 11am–7pm
Friday: 11am–10pm
Sunday: 11am–6pm

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