However comfortable you are speaking and reading French, there may be times when you long for a quiet read in English. Fret not. Since Edith Wharton’s day, Parisians have loved catching up with Anglo-Saxon writing. In addition, most of the places they do this will add a new dimension to your social life. Those listed below all offer something “individual”—author readings, festivals or just kind staff. A word of caution, however: because of tariffs, exchange rate and Paris real estate, book prices are high.
29, rue de la Parcheminerie, in the 5th Arrondissement. 01 46 33 16 24.
Mon–Sat, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Canadian-run shop with Anglo-American and Canadian books, and a large secondhand section.
224, rue de Rivoli, in the 1st. 01 42 60 76 07.
Mon–Sat, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
This is a grand institution, the first store in Europe to offer English-language books. With dark wood walls, it retains a quiet Grand Trip ambience that Henry James would recognize. Impressive range, too: history books, guidebooks, beautiful books on the arts and art catalogue. English selections have their own section, but you’ll find translations scattered throughout. A great haven on rainy days.
I Love My Blender
36, rue du Temple, in the 3rd. 01 42 77 50 32.
Tues–Sat, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Small, idiosyncratic shop whose owner, Christophe Persouyre, used to work in advertising. Not only books—all originally written in English, with many French translations—also Persouyre’s own choice of small and amusing gifts.
The Red Wheelbarrow
22, rue St.-Paul, in the 4th. 01 48 04 75 08.
Mon, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Tues–Sat, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.; Sun, 2 p.m.–6 p.m.
In the Marais, this bookstore is small and crowded but the staff is very friendly. It also has a children’s section.
© Cynthia Rose
San Francisco Book Company
17, rue Monsieur le Prince, in the 6th. 01 43 29 15 70.
Hours vary, so call ahead.
This bookstore has entirely secondhand stock of English-language reads in hardcover and paperback. It’s dusty and a bit haphazard, so if you’re looking for something specific, be prepared to search. It has some collectibles, plenty of mysteries, airplane fodder and more. You can also sell books here.
Shakespeare & Company
37, rue de la Bûcherie, in the 5th. 01 43 25 40 93.
Mon–Fri, 10 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sat–Sun, 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
Opinions are divided about this “legendary” bookstore, once an expat destination on a par with Jim Morrison’s grave. Not so many new books, much secondhand dust. Every book sold is specially stamped. Carries a few bilingual books, such as volumes of Prévert poems in English and French. In the last few years, the store has rebranded itself with events such as its own literary festival.
Village Voice Bookshop
6, rue Princesse, in the 6th. 01 46 33 36 47.
Mon, 2 p.m.–7:30 p.m.; Tues–Sat, 10 a.m.–7:30 p.m.; Sun, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.
A gem of a bookstore, noteworthy for great service and author events—which are very crowded, so go early. It’s also patronized by well-known expat authors who live in the area. There’s a good selection in the new fiction, arts, bios, social sciences and philosophy sections, and elsewhere. It’s perhaps the most likely place to find new US releases first, and the staff is always happy to order anything.
W. H. Smith
248, rue de Rivoli, in the 1st. 01 44 77 88 99.
Mon–Sat, 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Sun, 12:30 p.m.–7 p.m.
The Paris branch of the ubiquitous UK chain offers a huge selection of current Anglophone magazines and British best sellers. The children’s department hosts monthly kid’s club readings. Very popular with both Brits and Americans, W. H. Smith stages its own author readings and discussions.