Since opening in 1919, Shakespeare and Co has been a beloved home for writers and lovers of literature. During the 1920s, nomadic expats such as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Ford Madox Ford could be spotted trolling the aisles, brainstorming their latest works. Since then, it’s tradition for passing writers and poets to not only haunt the shop, but live among the shelves!
When George Whitman opened the store’s current location in the Latin Quarter in 1951, he build hide-a-beds for writers passing through (who he fondly called “tumbleweeds”). He let them stay in exchange for help running the shop. As a traveling writer himself, Whitman had often relied on the kindness of strangers, and lived by the motto of Shakespeare’s quote: “be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.”
Nowadays, the shop continues to flourish as a popular tourist destination. In Fall 2015, Shakespeare and Co realized the founders’ 50 year-old dream of opening a café. Now patrons can hunker down in cozy armchairs and skim chapters, while enjoying fresh-pressed juice and bagels. Many of the books are English classics, so there’s often a healthy contingent of Anglophones and Anglophiles. For passing Americans or Brits, this is the perfect place to pick up travel guides and easy-reading.
Paris Perfect blogger Hannah writes about her visit to the legendary bookshop. Besides transportive photos and juicy gossip on historical literary heroes, Hannah also provides a helpful review of the customer experience.