Paris’s identity is deeply rooted in the fact that it is a literary city. Since the days of Villon and Du Beslay, the art of the word has had a special place in this city.
The craft of writing benefits from a special aura here, a spirit that has fostered the development of generations of French talent and attracted wave after wave of foreigners.
This in turn has led the city to be particularly frequently and fondly treated in the world of letters, which has helped to forge the extraordinarily unique and powerful collective unconscious of what Paris represents, to further the myth of this Parnassus on the Seine.
Paris’s literary tradition is upheld, in the most concrete and everyday sense, by the city’s bookshops. At a time when bookshops around the world are quietly closing one after the other, those of Paris seem to be resisting – in no small part due to a government-organized system of aid.
The result is that Paris is perhaps unique among world cities in being covered with a network of small neighborhood literary outlets, that act not only as places where one can find works of reliably good quality to help occupy the time spent at café terraces, but as centers of cultural exchange throughout the city. It is truly a unique heritage.
From an urban standpoint, I am fascinated by the role bookshops play in the urban experience. They are havens, places of repose, culture and inspiration – as well as being a refuge from the cold and, all too frequently in Paris, the rain. Paris’s human-scale bookshops, with their window displays and frequent outside extensions, are an essential part of the urban experience of the flâneur.
I have found myself accumulating photographs of bookshops in their urban context from every arrondissement of Paris and from the petite couronne. To celebrate Paris’s bookshops and help share my strong sense of their importance, I share a selection of these photographs.
Librairie Comme un Roman, 39 rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
L’oeil écoute, 77 boulevard de Montparnasse, 75006 Paris
La Hune, 18 rue de l’Abbaye, 75006 Paris
L’arbre à lettres, 14 rue Boulard, 75014 Paris
Librairie Chapitre Julliard, 229 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75007 Paris
Librairie Averroès, 7 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris
Artazart Design Bookstore, 83 quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris
Shakespeare and Company, 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris