Shakespeare and Company in Paris is a pilgrimage for many writers. This bookstore, located at 37 rue de la Bûcherie in the 5th arrondissement, was founded in 1951 by George Whitman as a tribute to Sylvia Beach’s bookstore of the same name. Beach’s Shakespeare and Company, a gathering place for writers such as James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Ernest Hemingway, closed in 1940 during the German occupation. Whitman’s Shakespeare and Company, however, still thrives today and embraces the same spirit of Beach’s bookstore as an inspirational forum for writers.
Seven Things Every Writer Must Do at Shakespeare and Company.
Visit the Antiquarian
Adjacent to the main shop, this section showcases rare books (some of them signed).
Be inspired and leave a note
On the second floor is what many people call “the typewriter alcove” leave your own words of wisdom, insightful thoughts, or musings. Here’s a photo of mine (it’s in the typewriter)
To be here
A poem in the pages of my life, vivid
Feeling of warmth and
Control of my thoughts
I’ll fold the edge of the page and
Come back to it again
Listen, Sing, or Play
Also on the second floor is a room with a working piano. Sit, listen, or sing along if someone is playing. Or, if you know how to play, take a seat and let your fingers fly. There’s nothing like music to get those creative juices flowing. My husband and I sat and sang with this lovely French duo….
Do not miss a book reading if one happens to be scheduled at the shop when you are in town. Listen to authors read passages from their books. When I was there, complimentary glasses of wine were served after the event. Check Shakespeare and Company’s Facebook site for the next book reading.
In the tradition of Sylvia Beach and George Whitman, Welsh poet and painter Panmelys hosts a poets’ circle and “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” at the bookstore’s library. Bring a poem and savor a cup of tea, biscuit, and maybe a piece of homemade cake. Sundays 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Free. Don’t forget to sign the book that is passed around at the end of the event.
Shakespeare and Company Café
With well-brewed coffee and crafted menu items such as the Shakespeare Shake, the Flapjack Kerouac, and The Bun Also Rises, you’ll want to check out Shakespeare and Company’s recently-opened café.
Buy a book and get it customized
Yet another fabulous French tradition – ink-stamp the title page of new books with the bookseller’s hallmark. Make sure you get your book stamped at Shakespeare and Company. Free. Here’s a photo of a book I purchased and had signed and stamped after a reading of Swimming Home by British writer Deborah Levy.
Note: Shakespeare and Company also offers other book customizations: pocket-sized poem (1 Euro), photo keepsake (4 Euros), or a spritz of perfume (free). More details on the bookstore’s website.
Shakespeare and Company / 37 rue de la Bûcherie in the 5th arrondissement / Monday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. / Antiquarian open Tuesday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
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XO – Audrey