The original Shakespeare & Co, run by Sylvia Beach and beloved of Hemingway and his ilk, closed in the 1940s during the occupation of Paris (the site at 12 Rue de l’Odéon bears a plaque). In 1951, wandering spirit George Whitman opened Le Mistral at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, re-naming it in 1964 in homage to Beach’s legacy (he also named his daughter after her). But the back history hardly matters now – George, who passed away in 2011 aged 98, turned the shop into something entirely unique and magical.
A gathering place, source of inspiration and often a bed for beat generation bohemians, writers, travellers and readers for over 60 years, Shakespeare & Company has hosted thousands of ‘tumbleweeds’ – volunteer helpers who sleep in the shop – and featured in numerous films, books and memoirs. The sprawling site includes a large used and antiquarian section, while the main store is a heavenly labyrinth of book-lined passages, alcoves and reading rooms full of secret corners, an unmissable destination for bibliophiles the world over. Sylvia Whitman now runs the store with as much charm as – if less eccentricity than – her father, launching an biennial literary festival and maintaining a strong focus on events and readings.
|Venue name:||Shakespeare & Company|
37 rue de la Bûcherie
|Opening hours:||10am-11pm Mon-Fri; 11am-11pm Sat, Sun|
Average User Rating
5 / 5
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When I first went to Paris I loved this bookstore, It was dingy and rundown with books stacked to the ceiling in a labyrinth of rooms and hallways. It felt like you were rummaging through someone's house. In the last few years they have cleaned up the place and added a cafe. While I still like the store and I try to visit it whenever I can, I miss the dingy old store. It like your favorite dive bar repainted its interior and added new booths. It is still the same beer, but there is something not quite right. Avoid it during the day when lines to get into the bookstore can be long.
I absolutely adore this bookshop. It has a great selection, and it is small and really charming. Books are stacked everywhere.