Bookworm? Head For 10 of the Best Bookshops in Paris

Guide to browsing and buying for bibliophiles

As reported by The New York Times, Paris continues to serve as a bastion for bibliophiles. France boasts more than 2,500 bookstores and, unlike its English-speaking counterparts, continues to see book sales grow. Books are more common than iPods or Pads on the Paris metro and are not only an essential staple for lounging at parks, but can be a great travel companion: when you're grown tired of sightseeing for the day, little is more restful and pleasant than sitting at a corner table of a cafe with a good book. What could be more Parisian, really?

  • 01 of 10

    Shakespeare and Company

    Courtney Traub/Licensed to

    It's with good reason that Shakespeare & Company remains the most famous of English bookstores in Paris. Inspired by the original shop founded by Sylvia Beach and frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, this multi-level bookshop was in turn opened by George Whitman (he passed away in December 2011, sadly). It's still the place to head to find the best selection of English books in town, while also serving as a monument to the "lost generation."

    Old typewriters and cushioned benches continue to be available to those artists and students in need, while a select few working on their craft, affectionately known as "tumbleweeds" are still given lodging in exchange for work in the shop. The English-language writing workshops are also immensely popular, and every two years a prominent literary festival called "Festival & Co" is organized by the bookshop.
    Read More: Interview with Sylvia Whitman of Shakespeare and Company

  • 02 of 10
    Seine-side booksellers in Paris.
    Gareth Wright/Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons license.
    There is nothing more Parisian than a stroll along the Seine river. For decades, booksellers have opened their green metal boxes and sold their wares to tourists and locals alike, and the discoveries remain endless. Whether you are in the mood for taking a chance on an obscure English book or able to find an original Tintin comic, each seller offers an astounding variety of books, posters and other artifacts. Just make sure you keep those bargaining skills fresh.
  • 03 of 10
    WH Smith is located on Rue Rivoli in Paris.
    Mettes Paris

    WH Smith Located across from the Tuileries and steps from the Louvre, this three-story Paris outpost of the British chain bookstore offers books, magazines, and newspapers published in English (most titles are from Britain). So whether you forgot your book for the trip on the plane or want to join the Parisians in reading among the flowers of the old royals, you'll easily be able to pick up something here. Just keep in mind that you will probably be paying more for the same title here than you would be at home.

    Address: 248, rue de Rivoli
    Metro: Tuileries or Concorde

  • 04 of 10
    Galignani claims to be the first English-language bookshop on the Continent.
    Luxe blog

    Proudly claiming to be the first English-language bookstore established on the European continent, this is another classic spot for bibliophiles in the French capital.

    If you want a hard-to-find English version of a famous French book, this is the shop to go to, and just down the street from WH Smith. With a special emphasis on the classics, modern fiction, sociology, and the fine arts, this wood-paneled shop specializing mostly on English-language books has been thriving since 1810. Taking up both a large street level and mezzanine, the front half of the store is dedicated to an enormous selection of French books that will easily catch your eye as well.
    Address: 224, rue de Rivoli
    Metro: Tuileries or Concorde

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  • 05 of 10
    Courtney Traub/Licensed to
    Five floors inside and rows upon rows outside in front, both new and used books (mostly French) are on maximum display here. And with a large dedicated and cheap English section, you will walk away from this Paris flagship with a shopping bag, regardless if you planned on it or not. In addition to boasting books on every subject imaginable, the shop also has a great knick-knack section where you can find a chain store souvenir without anyone at home knowing about it.
  • 06 of 10
    Colette is one of the most coveted concept stores in Paris, located on Rue St Honore.
    InCase/Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons license.

    Best known as one of Paris' trendiest concept stores, Colette also has a much coveted art books and magazines section, where fashionistas and arty types compete to get a look at the latest in design and arts.

  • 07 of 10
    Nestled within a side street of the Latin Quarter, this secondhand English bookshop is well worth the stop, if not for its selection than for its layout. Shelves upon shelves are stacked on top of each other within this small space that will have you sucking in your croissant-filled stomach in order to avoid knocking over a stack of books. The incredibly warm staff offers complementary tea and coffee as well as a small outdoor seating space to immediately enjoy your purchase.

    Address: 29, rue de la Parcheminerie
    Metro/RER: St-Michel

  • 08 of 10
    If you're passionate about fashion, then make sure to reserve some time on your trip for a stop at haute couture designer Karl Lagerfeld's bookshop, featuring copies of his published coffee table books on art, architecture, photography, and design. Set within an elegant space designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, enjoy browsing in elegant surroundings.

    Address: 7, rue de Lille
    Metro: Rue du Bac

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  • 09 of 10

    Libraries Le Bail-Weissert

    Paris is filled with rare and specialty bookshops, but this one boasts the best collection of atlases, maps, and engravings from the 15th to 19th centuries. The shop sells original topographical maps of European and world cities, along with a grand selection of architectural engravings.

    Address: 13, rue Frederic Sauton
    Metro: Maubert-Mutualite

  • 10 of 10
    Combine the unique and fun experience of the Paris flea market with searching for rare books here. At this weekend market, browse through a mass of mostly French wares from 60 different libraries, spanning several centuries. In addition to your excitement, make sure you bring cash and your bargaining skills as well.

    Address: 104, rue Brancion
    Metro: Convention