Where to read in Paris ?

Where to read in Paris? That’s the subject of our wonderful blog post!

“To read is to travel. To travel is to read,” so aptly said Victor Hugo. 📚

Reading is a loophole and an interesting way to escape this health crisis that overwhelms us. Books allow us to immerse ourselves in stories that are sometimes funny, sometimes fantastic or sometimes romantic.

In order not to bother you, I recommend some bookshops in Paris which are among the most beautiful of the capital. Come for a tour, in order to find the books that will take you to a distant universe.

BOOKSHOP JOUSSEAUME

It is in the heart of one of the most beautiful and one of the oldest Parisian galleries that this splendid bookshop is nestled. The Galerie Vivienne is undoubtedly the most beautiful covered passage in Paris. It houses the Jousseaume bookshop, where very old books and very recent books, all used. In this shop, we could spend hours marveling and hesitating between nearly 400 exceptional works, as if it were a museum.

The bookshop opened in 1826 and is listed as a Monument of History, while keeping its charm of yesteryear.

Did you feel like reading? In this case, go to their Website of the Bookshop of Jousseaume.

Address: 45-46-47 galerie Vivienne 75002 PARIS

Access Public transport: Metro 3: Bourse stop

Where to read in Paris ?SAINTE GENEVIEVE LIBRARY

Sainte Genevieve gave its name to the basilica, the Sainte-Genevieve abbey in Paris and the library. In the 9th and 10th centuries, the repeated looting of the Normans caused numerous damages and led to the destruction of the abbey which had to be rebuilt: in the 12th century, Suger, abbot of Saint-Denis and advisor of the kings of France, imposed on the canons of Saint Augustine, now installed at the abbey, to maintain a library and a school of copyists. Because of the wars of religion, the library has to be reconstructed almost entirely, at the beginning of the seventeenth century

It was Cardinal de La Rochefoucauld who rebuilt the library in 1624, to which he bequeathed in 1640 all his personal collections and archives. The collections then expanded until the Revolution. By 1687, the library had 20,000 volumes, including 400 manuscripts, and several thousand prints. Over time, the library’s collection was enriched by numerous donations and revolutionary confiscations, as well as by Napoleonic war catches (in 100 years the stock grew by about 20,000 books).

In view of the constantly increasing number of books and lack of space, the new library was built on its site from 1843 and it opened its doors on February 4th, 1851. It was inscribed in 1975 and classified in 1992 as a Historical Monument for the modernity of its architecture. Today its collections comprise about two million documents divided into three funds: the Reserve for old, rare or precious funds, the General Fund for documents published since 1810, and the Nordic Library proposing the richest fund fenno-Scandinavian countries of Europe (excluding Scandinavian countries).

Want to find THE rare gem? Visit the website of the Sainte Genevieve Library.

Address: 10 Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris

Access by public transport: Metro 10: Cardinal Lemoine stop

Where to read in Paris?SHAKESPEARE AND CO BOOKSTORE

This bookshop was previously a monastery called “La Maison du Mustier” built in the 17th century. The American George Whitman found this monastery and turned it into a shop, called Le Mistral. It was in 1951 that English-speaking bookshop in Paris was born, opposite the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. In April 1964, on Shakespeare’s 400th birthday, the bookstore was named Shakespeare and Co.

It is a real institution that is to know absolutely in Paris. The greatest English and American writers once found refuge there. It is for this reason that lovers of English literature must know this address on Paris since it offers a rich collection of English-speaking writers, which made the reputation of the bookstore at its beginnings. The bookshop is full of rare books from floor to ceiling!

Armchairs, sofas, alcoves, and even a piano invite you to spend the day there if you wish.

To browse a book of interest to you, visit the Shakespeare and Co Website

Address: 37 rue de la Bûcherie 75005 PARIS

Access by public transport: St Michel Notre Dame stop

BIBLIOTHEQUE NATIONALE DE FRANCE

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France is divided into several sites, 4 of which are in Paris and 1 in Avignon. The BnF François-Mitterrand is the best known site but there are others. The BnF, named since 1994, is the heir of the royal collections created since the end of the Middle Ages, it is one of the oldest French cultural institutions.

Here is a summary of the history of the BNF: In 1368, Charles V installed his collection of books in a specially equipped room of the Louvre. Ten years later, it has more than 900 volumes. This is the beginning of a tradition that the kings of France have maintained. Francis I introduces a new principle: He asks printers and booksellers to deposit in the bookshop of the castle of Blois any printed book put for sale in the kingdom. This obligation, known as legal deposit, is a fundamental step for the Royal Library.

In the 20th century, the Library continued to expand. At the same time, three annexes were built at Versailles. But these extensions are not enough to solve the storage problems caused by the explosion of printed production. On July 14th, 1988, the President of the Republic, François Mitterrand, announced «the construction and development of one or the largest and most modern library in the world». This large library will have to cover all fields of knowledge, be at the disposal of all, use the most modern technologies of data transmission, be able to be consulted remotely and enter into relations with other European libraries.

You want to visit one of the National Libraries of France, in this case, visit their Website.

Address:  58, rue de Richelieu 75002 PARIS

Access by public transport: Metro 3: Bourse stop

BIBLIOTHEQUE NATIONALE DE FRANCE – RICHELIEU SITE

A few words about the Bibliothèque nationale de France: The Richelieu-Louvois library in Paris, opened during the 18th century at 58, rue de Richelieu, in Paris.

The Richelieu-Louvois site is the cradle and historic seat of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Its vaults, its paintings and the immensity of its main reading room are not to be missed under any circumstances. The Richelieu site brings together the research rooms of the BnF (departments of Manuscripts, Prints and Photography, Coins, Medals and Antiques, Performing Arts and Music) and the library of the Institut national d’histoire de l’art and the library of the École nationale des Chartes.

The Richelieu Website makes you want to take a book and read it in this wonderful room? In that case, go to their Website

Address:  58, rue de Richelieu 75002 PARIS

Access by public transport: Metro 3: Bourse stop

BOOKSHOP OF THE PASSAGE

We know all the covered passages of Paris, located on the outskirts of the Grands Boulevards.

These are galleries pierced in the middle of the buildings and surmounted by glass windows that constitute a typical architectural curiosity of Paris. Most of them have shops, tea rooms or restaurants, but also bookshops! Notably the Library du Passage which is hidden in the seductive Passage Jouffroy. The Passage bookshop was founded in 1826 and is a must-see spot for passers-by looking for rare books on fine arts. It is a splendid bookshop located at the heart of this passage dedicated to decorative arts, furniture, jewelry, design and fashion. On 3 levels, no less than 30,000 books devoted to fine arts are referenced.

You go through the covered passageways of Paris and look for a book? Do not hesitate anymore and go to the boutique!

Are you interested in art? Don’t hesitate and click HERE to book one of our guided tours at the Louvre!

Address: 48 Passage Jouffroy 75009 PARIS

Access by public transport: Metro 8 or 9: Richelieu Drouot stop

SORBONNE INTERUNIVERSITY LIBRARY

In 1770, the library occupied the Fouquet and Harlay galleries of the former library of the Collège Louis-le-Grand, whose Jesuits were expelled in 1763. Its collections then contain 20,000 volumes. Until the Revolution, it was open three days a week, not only to students and teachers, but also to the general public. She regularly bought books and had 31,000 volumes in 1791.

The abolition of the university in September 1793 and the transformation of its premises into barracks and prisons led to the temporary transfer of the library to the literary repository of Louis-la-Culture (present-day Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis church). At the same time, it was enriched by a large number of books confiscated from religious orders and emigrants. Called the Bibliothèque des lycées de Paris in 1802, it became the library of the University of France in 1808. In 1823, she left her home to settle in the former Collège de Sorbonne.

This library is undeniably one of the most spectacular by its architecture and decoration. Moreover, it is a well-equipped library with collections of books specialized in literature and humanities. 

Do you want to visit the Sorbonne? Don’t hesitate and visit their Website.

Address: 17, rue de la Sorbonne 75005 Paris

Access by public transport: Metro 10: Cluny La Sorbonne stop

HOUSEBOAT LIBRARY WATER AND DREAMS

Moored on the Quai de l’Oise a few steps from the Bassin de la Villette, the houseboat L’eau Et Les Rêves is not like its other neighbours on the Canal de l’Ourcq. In its hold, it houses a bookshop mainly dedicated to travel, the sea and nature.

How did this houseboat become a bookshop? Here is a little history of this very special bookshop: 

La Péniche was born in the Strasbourg ironworks in 1950. In her early youth, she transported cereals across Europe. In 1980, in the heart of Melun, the houseboat became for the first time a bookshop under the name of Pollen. Didier Delamare and Judith Rosa took over in 2010 to transform it into a maritime and travel bookshop. They give it its current location, in Paris, on the Canal de l’Ourcq. Since June 2018, Cyrille Bruneau and Cécile Allain have added a café-restauration area and are now focusing on Nature and Travel. The «maritime» bookshop also offers many workshops to discover on its Facebook page!

Are you interested in the concept of the boat and the bookstore? Do not hesitate anymore and go on their website : la Péniche L’eau et les Rêves.

Address: 17, rue de la Sorbonne 75005 Paris

Access by public transport: Metro 10: Cluny La Sorbonne stop

MAZARINE LIBRARY

The origins of the Mazarine Library are linked to the personal collections of Cardinal Mazarin (1602-1661), successor of Richelieu and principal minister of Louis XIV between 1643 and 1661. Open to scholars from 1643 in the mansion of Mazarin, it is the oldest public library in France.

It was organized and developed by Gabriel Naudé (1600-1653). He made it the richest private library in Europe. The collection was around 40,000 volumes in the mid-17th century. During the Fronde (1648-1652), this first library was dispersed for public sale at the beginning of 1652. Mazarin returned to power, he restored it in part, with the help of François de La Poterie.

Amputated in 1668 from its manuscripts by means of an exchange with the King’s library, it was reopened in 1689 and was kept in operation during the Revolution. It then benefited from revolutionary confiscations and the library was enriched by several thousand volumes.

Since then, it continues to develop its resources, thanks to a documentary policy mainly oriented in historical disciplines, and benefiting from legal deposit and large donations. Its reading room, restored from 1968 to 1974, perpetuates the unique decor of a large library of the seventeenth century.

This bookshop makes you want to go, do not hesitate and go on their Website.

Address: 23 Quai de Conti 75006 Paris

Access by public transport: Metro 7: Pont Neuf stop

You have the comfortable chair, a corner you like next to your fireplace? All you need is a good book to spend a good winter afternoon!  And in the face of the health crisis, many bookstores have had to close or call their customers for help to survive the pandemic.

Do not hesitate! Go on their websites or in their shops to find a good book on the theme of your choice! 

I hope this article has inspired you and that it will make you want to read and discover new places! 

And as always… Be curious!

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