Shakespeare & Company

Top choice books

in Latin Quarter
Image by Dennis K. Johnson / Getty Images
Image by Dennis K. Johnson / Getty Images

Enchanting nooks and crannies overflow with new and secondhand English-language books. The original shop (12 rue l’Odéon, 6e; closed by the Nazis in 1941) was run by Sylvia Beach and became the meeting point for Hemingway’s ‘Lost Generation’. Readings by emerging and illustrious authors regularly take place, and there's a wonderful cafe next door.

The bookshop is fabled for nurturing writers, and at night its couches turn into beds where 'Tumbleweeds' (aspiring writers and book-mad students) overnight in exchange for stacking shelves.

American-born George Whitman opened the present incarnation in 1951, attracting a beat-poet clientele, and scores of authors have since passed through its doors. In 2006 Whitman was awarded the Officier des Arts et Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, recognising his significant contribution to the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance. Whitman died in 2011, aged 98; he is buried in division 73 of Cimetière du Père Lachaise. Today his daughter, Sylvia Beach Whitman, maintains Shakespeare & Company’s serendipitous magic.