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  • Culture

    Paris and the page: top five bookshops

    By Amy Collins 07 September 2015

    FOR the French, browsing in bookshops is a national pastime, so if you’re looking for the real Parisian experience, drop by one of these impressive bookshops and soak up a rich, literary heritage. From wine bars with books, to open mic nights, to the oldest children’s bookstore in Paris, here is where we go when we’re in need of a good story.

    Shakespeare & Company
    THE first of these stores was opened in 1919 by Sylvia Beach and later became the meeting place for the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford. While that incarnation closed, a second larger store with the same name opened in 1951 under the reign of George Whitman. The store – known for its rich history and its appearances in films like Before Sunset and Midnight in Paris – is an incredible store in its own right offering new, secondhand, and a lot of English language books.

    Chantelivre
    A HAVEN for the little ones, Chantelivre was the first – and quickly established itself as one of the best bookshops for children in Paris. With its flare for creative window dressing and helpful staff who love children’s literature, this store, which opened in 1974, is the place to find a large selection of the best books on the market. Cantilever also has a great selection of graphic novels and titles for young adult readers.

    Spoken Word Paris
    LESS of a bookstore, Spoken Word Paris is more like a community hub for writers in Paris. You don’t go there to read literature, you go there to hear beautiful words at their open mic poetry. Held at Au Chat Noir, grab a drink, put your name down at 8pm and sit back and listen to others read from 9pm.

    La Belle Hortense
    WHAT is better than a store lined with books? A store lined with wine and books. With an inviting blue exterior, the inside is even more welcoming. First order of the day, choose a book from new releases, rare volumes, independent poetry, and of course the classics. Then for the wine, in a glass, carafe, or bottle. You can even have a bite to eat from the menu from La Chaise au Plafond over the road. They also offer a range of readings and events to keep you entertained.

    The American Library in Paris
    OPENED back in 1920, the library was made up of books donated by American libraries to the United States Armed Forces who were serving in World War I. Today it is the largest English-language library in Europe. The not-for-profit library has over 120,000 books, ensuring you’ll always be able to find something of interest. They also host a range of events, from conversations with artists to book groups.