Why the City of Light is every literature lover’s dream
Paris was once home to some of the world’s greatest writers, from F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Henry Miller, and Ernest Hemingway who described it as “a moveable feast”. The City of Light is not only for lovers, but for lovers of art as well. In line with that notion, below is a list of places for literary enthusiasts in the heart of Paris:
Shakespeare & Co
There are actually two Shakespeare & Co bookstores, one which existed in Paris in the past. American bookseller Sylvia Beach founded the first Shakespeare & Co bookstore back in 1919. Located in 12 Rue Odéon, it became a hangout spot for writers and artists in the 1920s, but the World War II would unfortunately force it to cease operating, never to re-open. George Whitman established the second one in 1958, initially called Le Mistral, it is located just across Notre Dame. It was re-named Shakespeare & Co after Sylvia Beach’s blessing and death in 1964 and as with its predecessor, became a hangout centre for many writers such as Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs back in the day. Today, it has turned into a major tourist attraction, thanks to films such as Before Sunset and Midnight in Paris.
Much like the iconic green chairs you see in Parisian parks, what would Paris be without the green, metal boxes that sell books and trinkets along the river Seine? These bookstalls go all the way back from the 16th century and remain as one of the most charming things about the city. Apparently, there are 200 of them in operation (they open at 11:30 am) offering thousands and thousands of rare and collectible book copies. Unfortunately for most tourists, a lot of the books sold are in French.
There are a number of famous writers who have been laid to rest in Paris. So for those who wish to pay tribute to the likes of Oscar Wilde, Proust or Colette, a visit to Pere Lachaise (Montparnasse Cemetery for fans of Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir) is an experience on its own. Unlike many of the world’s graveyards, the ones in Paris are well kept, hauntingly beautiful and exceptionally touristy. Pere Lachaise has a lovely little garden in the middle with a view of the Eiffel Tower (albeit very small), which is a nice spot to open a book and catch up on some reading.