Now there’s more than one English language bookshop in Paris, as you might be well aware. BUT, this is NOT one of them!
However, this book department at Le Bon Marche is so overflowing with not only mainly French language books and ‘picture books’ (table top books, for instance, that dazzle the eyes no matter what language you speak) but they are housed in an elegant voluminous space that qualifies it for my list of ‘Where to go on a rainy day’ or any day, for that matter. By lingering here, you are afforded the ‘no ticket necessary to buy for your afternoon of entertainment’ but the opportunity to admire, in a hushed manner, not only the books for sale but also the enjoyment of this calm and soothing space.
I am a believer in being in awe of historical buildings, monuments, etc and I get a thrill every time I walk amongst them, but I am just as enthralled by projects and style that have been brought up to current day, preserving yesterday’s magic yet adding today’s way of function, practicality, aesthetic, and, yes, even charm. So, if you haven’t noticed, my blogging often emphasizes ‘today’s ingenious style of the modern moment’. I save much of the historical buildings, monuments for other bloggers to elaborate with the use of their wisdom, expertise, and excitement about them.
As you can see below, the potential book buyers seem to find this department store space homey and comfortable enough to sit down and take a break with a book or two or three. Their presence seems to resemble them being at a public library or even at home, with the occasional salesperson welcoming them in the same way as a librarian would at a public library. Do the customers even purchase a book and take it home? I have no idea…
See below how the book department expands over into a stationery shop with more of a meticulous showing of products to buy for one’s office or upcoming meeting.
Head to my favorite-Primo Piano Italian restaurant on the 2nd floor of Bon Marche. Ask for a table near one of the windows so you can take in the quintessential view of Paris, for as long as you want, with just a drink or add a bite to eat to your tab to round out your afternoon delight.
This capuccino below can be had at the tiny cafe that has been added on to the English language Shakespeare and Company bookshop, located on the Left Bank and in the Latin Quarter near Notre Dame. It is so well known, it is a ‘must stop’ for all my clients visiting Paris.
When I am in Paris I always check out their website to see what authors are scheduled to speak about their newly published book. The bookshop, itself, is by no means characterless! In fact, best to watch your step as you forage through their wealth of books. FYI: When the speaking engagements are available, arriving before the scheduled time is wise.
HiP Paris Blog has a rundown on the available English language bookstores in Paris. If you take a look at their link below, there are two on rue de Rivoli: Gaglinani claims to have been there before all the rest (1801). WH Smith is much more the frequented one due to it being the largest in size and having the widest range of books and other written materials such as magazines, maps, newspapers. (BTW, WH Smith is now called SMITH&SON.)
Yet, Shakespeare and Co. is chosen by so many because of its history and quirky style. A few other bookshops are mentioned as well in the article.
If you want to read more about Shakespeare and Company as well as the American Library in Paris, see my blog posts:
So Many Books, So Little Time
“Books are a Uniquely Portable Magic”…Stephen King