The French are a literary nation, and you will find bookstores of every size and shape in the city. Each year many French people eagerly buy and read the novels that have won some of the literary prizes, announced in the autumn. You will see people reading in the metro, in cafes, while waiting in line…
There are many bookstores in Paris with English, as well as other foreign, language books, magazines, newspapers and gifts. Main bookstore chains in Paris, such as FNAC (http://www.fnac.fr) and Gibert Jeune (http://www.gibertjeune.fr) carry ‘classics’ in the original language and they may have a small shelf or two dedicated to thrillers, romance and other genre. Check websites for the location nearest you.
For a wider selection it’s better to visit one of the specialized English-language bookshops in the city:
- W.H. Smith, 248, rue de Rivoli 75001, 01.44.77.88.99, http://www.whsmith.fr This is a widely-respected British chain with a large flagship store in Paris, just across from the Tuileries gardens. Stock up on English-language books, magazines, newspapers, language learning aids, DVDs – even British teas and chocolates. Friendly staff and Sunday-afternoon hours make this a pleasant shop.
- Galignani, 224 rue de Rivoli, 75001, 01.42.60.76.07, http://www.galignani.fr Prices are high at this English language bookshop, but you can’t beat the selection of hard-cover and paperback fiction, non-fiction, guides, gift books and more.
- Shakespeare and Co, 37 rue de la Bucherie 75005, http://www.shakespeareandcompany.com; This is a famed bookstore which has been providing for the needs of the expatriate and Parisian populations since Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs used to hang out here in the 1950s. You will find new and used books, extremely knowledgeable and friendly advice from the hip staff, literary festivals, poetry and book readings, and the famed Sunday tea with the venerable owner George Whitman upstairs in his flat.
- San Francisco Book Company, 17 rue Monsieur le Prince, 75006 Paris, 01 43 29 15 70, http://www.sanfranciscobooksparis.com; A cramped yet cozy bookstore that buys and sells second-hand books.
- The Abbey Bookshop, 29 Rue de la Parcheminerie 75005, 01.46.33.16.24, https://abbeybookshop.wordpress.com, New and used bookstore with selections from Canada, the US and UK. The shelves are packed and spread over two floors, so expect to ask help from the friendly owner, Brian Spence, if you are looking for something particular.
- Berkeley Books of Paris, 8, rue Casimir Delavigne 75006, http://www.berkeleybooksofparis.com; Second-hand bookstore where you can buy, sell or trade quality English and American books.
The American Library of Paris (http://www.americanlibraryinparis.org), 10, rue du Général Camou, 75007 Paris, 01.53.59.12.60, is the largest English-language lending library on the European continent. It is open everyday except Monday and has books, newspapers, audio-visual materials and more available for its members. It also hosts activities for children (in a dedicated section for children’s materials) and social events for adults. Short and long-term memberships are available.