The River Seine in Paris, France

3 Best Locations For Book Lovers in Paris, France

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Paris is known as the City of Light and is famous for its many monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe and more. The city hosts many excellent museums and art galleries, such as the iconic Louvre. However, Paris also features three locations that book lovers and authors will truly appreciate.

Paris cityscape, France

While the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, the good news is that France plans to start lifting restrictions for foreign travelers in May 2021. Take a trip to Paris and spend time exploring the National Library of France, Shakespeare and Company and the counter-culture Un Regard Moderne Bookstore.

1. Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France), Paris

Located in Quai François Mauriac in Paris, this massive library houses one of the largest book collections in the world. It is also one of the grandest and most storied collections of printed matter worldwide, including two examples of French Renaissance cartography.

The National Library of France can trace its origins back to 1368 when it was originally founded by Charles V. The library has since moved several times, with some of its collections dispersed. However, it remained the largest library in the world until the late 1800s, when other libraries surpassed its numbers.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France), Paris
Photo by Vincent Desjardins/Wikimedia Commons

The library was rebuilt and expanded in modern times and now hosts more than 10 million printed titles. Here, visitors can browse books on the arts, economics, law, languages, literature, the humanities, philosophy, science and technology and more. Among its more antiquated collections are more than 5,000 Greek manuscripts. Meanwhile, the library also houses an extensive collection of antique coins, including French, Greek and Roman.

Other attractions on display are Louis XIV’s globes. These were previously stored at Versailles until the French Revolution, after which they moved around before finally settling in the Bibliothèque Nationale.

2. Shakespeare and Company, 37 rue de la Bûcherie, Paris

This iconic Parisian bookstore is located on the Left Bank and doubles as the “Tumbleweed Hotel” for travelling writers. It was created in 1951 by an eccentric American named George Whitman. He opened the bookstore in the hope of creating a literary hub in the heart of Paris.

Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

A fervent communist, Whitman also decided to welcome all writers who needed a place to stay in Paris to stay as his guests in the bookstore. An inner door bears the book shop’s motto “Be kind to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.”

Dubbed the “Tumbleweeds,” Whitman’s requirements were simple. Writers could stay here on a first-come, first served basis, but they must write a biography and help out around the store for an hour or two each day. Today, there are still 13 beds concealed as bookshelves at Shakespeare and Company during the day and it is still a utopia for travelling writers, looking for somewhere to stay in the City of Light.

Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France
Photo by Christine Zenino/Wikimedia Commons

The tradition continues today, with Whitman’s daughter, Sylvia, running the bookstore and the Tumbleweed tradition has seen as many as 40,000 people sleeping in the shop over the years.

3. Un Regard Moderne Bookstore, 10 Rue Gît-le-Coeur, Paris

Un Regard Moderne is a counterculture bookstore and is known as the cathedral of international counterculture. The bookstore opened decades ago and is filled to the roof with some of the most submersive, intriguing and unusual art books, comics and essays that have been the inspiration of generations of bookworms.

Un Regard Moderne Bookstore, 10 Rue Gît-le-Coeur, Paris
Photo by nicolasnova/Flickr

The store was named by its owner, Jacques Noel and remains a crossroad for underground artists, independent publishers and musicians. The tiny, two-room shop can only hold a maximum of five people at a time and is full of fascinating books on outsider art, fetishism, surrealism, graphic design, science fiction, fanzines and censored books and people find themselves spending hours browsing the collections.

Un Regard Moderne Bookstore, 10 Rue Gît-le-Coeur, Paris
Photo by nicolasnova/Flickr

Enjoy browsing some of the world's most fascinating books of every subject while spending time in Paris, France..

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Latest update: April 23, 2021