The Cafe Phenomenon’s favourite bookshop, Shakespeare and Co. in Paris, France.

This place has as much history as the age-old books piled high in the store’s every nook and cranny. There are books up to the ceiling, stacks lining the stairs, covering chairs, and even some lined up against the store’s wooden floor boards. Every bookshelf is full to the brim!

The magic of it all is that the employee knows exactly where each book is resting. “A Moveable Feast? Ohh, that one’s over here!” Before you know it, they’ve found it behind the potted plants and the stack of Kerouac books. It’s incredible.

If you’re ever in Paris, pay this place a visit! It’s been around since the 20s, and has become quite an establishment. The original Shakespeare & Co. was run by the loveable Sylvia Beach, and served as a library as well as a bookshop. In fact, Beach was kind enough to lend out books to struggling writers for free… including the likes of a somewhat famous man by the name of Ernest Hemingway. The shop was also the first place to publish the works of James Joyce, while everyone else said the writer’s work was too risky. Funnily enough, the owner is still named Sylvia today.

Don’t let the messy appearance distract you, you can find every and any book here. Everything is separated into sections – Beat Generation, Philosophy, France, Poetry, Science Fiction, Existentialism, Marc Twain, Fitzgerald, Lost Generation, Modern Day Fiction, and so on. You might even find something incredible…  On my third visit, I came across an original inscribed manuscript of the Pentagon Papers in the old library section upstairs. Of course, some of the older documents like that one are not for sale, but you can still hold a little bit of history in your hands at Shakespeare & Co.


About Sophia Loffreda

Sophia Loffreda is a Concordia Journalism graduate, based in Montreal. When she’s not writing or editing for TCP, she works at a Media company, and as a fitness trainer and freelance documentary filmmaker. A self-diagnosed television junkie, Sophia enjoys camera work, photography, layout design, and scriptwriting. She's also working on writing a sitcom with two of her closest and most sarcastic friends. One day they hope to be something like Shonda Rhimes or Tina Fey. Realistic, we know. For now, she’ll settle for reading her bible (Vanity Fair) and admiring genius (Woody Allen). Her other interests include art, pop culture, travel, cooking, reading, soccer, yoga, and running with her four-year-old dog, Charlie.

One response »

  1. I love it when you say that the employee knows exactly where each book is. Now that’s my kind of bookstore. If I ever make it to Paris, Shakespeare & Co. is definitely a must-see!

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