Chantelivre is the first – and still the best – children’s bookshop in Paris. It began in 1974, when publisher l’École des Loisirs – at the time almost alone in the market of children’s books – set up shop to bolster the reputation of its publications. The shop has since opened up to new publishers, and now houses a near-complete catalogue of children’s literature (75% of 50,000 titles on the market).
In the shop on the classy Rue de Sèvres (there are two other branches in Issy-les-Moulineaux and Orléans), you first encounter the adult section, inaugurated in 2005. It includes classics, contemporary novels and thrillers in French and in translation, as well as non-fiction: books on art, history, cooking, and so on. You then enter the children’s department by way of fantasy and sci-fi, then comics, which leads to the young adult section. The target age group keeps on decreasing until you reach the games & learning section. Toddlers get a whole room to themselves.
It may be modern, but Chantelivre’s strengths ensure that it remains a traditional, welcoming bookshop, with personalized recommendations from the knowledgeable staff. It also boasts activities for children (talks, concerts, special guests, book signings) all year round, and occasionally for adults too – such as a recent visit from author Jacques Lamalle.