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7 Literary landmarks you need to visit in Paris

7 Literary landmarks you need to visit in Paris

Paris may be best-known as the city of love, but it's also the city of book lovers! Here are seven literary landmarks you should add to your travel bucket list

In her new book Literary Landscapes Paris, French art historian and TV presenter Sandrine Voillet takes us on a stunning photographic stroll through a selection of libraries, bookshops and brasseries. 

Brasserie Lipp

151 Boulevard Saint-Germain

Brasserie Lipp Paris

This brasserie has long been a popular haunt for creatives. In its early days it was popular among actors from a nearby theatre group called Vieux-Colombier. Later, writers came in droves, and in 1949 it was the site of a falling-out between James Baldwin and Richard Wright.

Marcellin Cazes, who took over ownership in 1918, created an annual literary prize called the Prix Cazes. It sought to reward authors who hadn’t been successful in literary competitions before. It has been staged annually since it began in 1935. 

Shakespeare and Company

37 Rue de la Bûcherie

Shakespeare and Company, Paris

This Paris bookshop was opened in 1919 by American Sylvia Beach, on the encouragement of her French partner, Adrienne Monnier. When it opened, it primarily sold English-language books, and it attracted various iconic English-speaking clientele, including Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway.

The shop was closed during the Second World War. After the war, an eccentric US ex-serviceman George Whitman opened a bookshop called Le Mistral, which he stocked with many books bought from Beach. He was a big admirer of hers, and he continued her practice of hospitality by allowing aspiring writers to sleep in the shop overnight in return for help around the shop in the day. After Beach’s death, Whitman renamed his shop Shakespeare and Company, and today it is owned by his daughter Sylvia.

Boquinistes

Right Bank and Left Bank of the River Seine

Boquinistes Paris

The boquinistes are riverside booksellers who have been around since the 16th century. These booksellers began as somewhat lawless figures, disliked by the authorities as they were able to get around the censorship rules that limited official booksellers.

In the mid-19th century they were granted licenses to sell books, and now they are a staple sight along the River Seine. They feature on France’s list of intangible cultural heritage

Père Lachaise Cemetery 

8 Boulevard de Menilmontant

Pere Lachaise Cemetery Paris

When it first opened, this cemetery was not a popular burial spot. It was some way away from the city centre and it had not been blessed by the church. In a marketing ploy, the cemetery acquired the remains of some notable literary figures: Molière, a French playwright, and Jean de la Fontaine, a famous poet.

In a matter of decades, the cemetery had become the final resting place of many writers, including Balzac, Oscar Wilde and Gertrude Stein.

Le Procope

13 Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie

Le Procope Paris

Le Procope was opened in 1686 by Sicilian chef Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli. Located across the road from a theatre, it became a hotspot for actors, playwrights and poets. Voltaire was said to drink 40 cups of coffee a day while he worked at a table at the cafe. 

Librairie Jousseaume

45-46-47 Galerie Vivienne

Librairie Jousseaume Paris

This antiquarian bookshop, dating back to 1826, specialises 19th- and 20th-century books on history, poetry, theatre and music. The shop is located in a covered arcade designed by architect Francois-Jean Delannoy in 1823. It is neoclassical in design, with a glass roof and a mosaic floor.

Librairie Jousesaume takes the form of two shops facing each other on a corner of the arcade, and is home to as many as 40,000 books. 

Abbey Bookshop

29 Rue de la Parcheminerie

Abbey Bookshop Paris

One of Paris’s most famous English-language bookstores, the Abbey Bookshop was established in 1989 by Canadian Brian Spence. It’s a labyrinth of books that spill out onto the pavement outside. 

Spence claims to have over 40,000 books, most of them second-hand. He often shares a complimentary cup of coffee and a story with his customers.

Literary Landscapes Paris Sandrine Voillet

Literary Landscapes Paris by Sandrine Voillet is published by Pavilion Books, £20

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