Tuesday, 17 June, 2014 - 21:36

Shakespeare and Company

by ReganS

One of the joys of spending time in Paris is there is always something to do. You could spend a week exploring the city and only see a fraction of what it has to offer! As well as the famous monuments and numerous museums, this beautiful city is home to so many amazing places to eat, activities to experience, and secret corners to discover. A particular favourite place to visit, for locals and tourists alike, is located on a cobbled street a stone's throw away from the Notre Dame cathedral. The Shakespeare and Company bookshop is always bustling with people. There are often people queuing for their turn to enter the small shop, buy a book and get it stamped with the store's logo, or see a favourite author at one of the store's events. So what is it that makes this tiny bookshop a must-see? I feel as though I can't go anywhere in Paris without seeing books! Whether it is a large bookstore, a vendor beside the Seine or a box of free books left on the side of a street, there are so many opportunities to discover new literature. Yet it just so happens that Shakespeare and Company is different from your average bookstore as it has a great history that adds to its appeal! The store was first opened in 1951 by George Whitman. He lived in the flat above the shop and died there in 2011. Although Shakespeare and Company was not the shop's original name, it was changed to this in honour of another Parisian bookstore that had been forced to close during the Second World War. Similarly to the original Shakespeare and Company, which had been a gathering place for such famous writers as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald as well as a bookshop, the store welcomed writers and artists to sleep and work there. Even today, in exchange for a couple of hours work in the shop, people can sleep in one of the few beds hidden around the shop (as long as they don't mind sharing the room with the owner's cat!) I love the idea that this tiny, old building, with its cobbled floor and shelf upon shelf of books, new and old, is such a tourist attraction. Just think of how many people have passed through that one door since 1951 and left with a book! In this age of new technologies, such as e-readers, it is great that thousands of people buy and read a good, old-fashioned paperback. The store is encouraging a love of books and the written word among the thousands of tourists who visit every year, all the while providing a unique environment and the opportunity to buy a wonderful memento of Paris.
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Where is your favourite place to buy books? Is there anywhere you would like to visit in Paris?
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