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If you love books, then you’re in for a treat in Paris! Narrowing the best bookstores in Paris down to just five is a difficult task, but to help my fellow traveling bookworms, I’m sure going to give it a try, probably cheating a little as I go.
Alright, maybe cheating a lot and starting now.
Surely, I don’t need to tell you about Shakespeare and Company. This shop’s reputation has spread worldwide and there’s no reader who doesn’t know to pop into the shop when in Paris.
On the other hand, you might not have heard about the boat-cum-bookstore L’Eau et Les Rêves moored on the Bassin de la Villette. The perfect combination of bookshop and café, this little-known spot makes for a most unusual and delightful setting that’s definitely worth a visit.
There are several bookstores in Paris that specialize in English-language books and magazines, such as the popular WHSmith on Rue de Rivoli, or the superb Librairie Galignani a little further down the street. And then there are, of course, plenty of French bookshops.
This is a list of my five absolute favorite bookstores in Paris, all loved for different reasons and offering very different approaches to selling and buying books. Have a look and see which one you like best:
The oh-so-cute Le Pont Traversé is located on a picture-perfect corner of the 6th Arrondissement, just next to the Jardin du Luxembourg.
Formerly a butcher shop, some of the old fixtures were still visible inside among the floor-to-ceiling books, and it became known as the Old Butcher’s Bookstore by the locals. Sadly, the bookstore closed in January 2020, but this photogenic spot recently reopened as a coffee shop!
Le Pont Traversé
62 Rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris
Metro Rennes or Saint-Placide
Closed January 2020, Now open as coffee shop
As you meander along the Canal Saint Martin, you’ll come across Artazart, so be sure to pop in. The store is perfect for browsing through books on design, photography, art, and street art (there’s even an Invader inside the shop—shhhh, don’t tell!). With all their beautiful books and covetable knickknacks, you won’t be leaving empty-handed.
83 Quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris
Metro Jacques Bonsergent
Mon–Fri 10:30–19:30, Sat 11:00–19:30, Sun 13:00–19:30
Every weekend, the George Brassens Book Market springs up under the roof of a historic marché where once the butchers of Vaugirard plied their trade. Now, you can browse for books for hours, finding everything from old maps and comics, to novels in every language and historic travel guides. Every stand offers something different and bartering is to be expected.
As the book market is located next to the lovey and relatively unknown Parc George Brassens with its mini-vineyard, it’s easy to make a morning of it.
Marché du Livre Ancien et d’Occasion, George Brassens
104 Rue Brancion, 75015 Paris
Metro Porte de Vanves
Sat–Sun 09:00–18:00, Closed Mon–Fri
The Abbey Bookshop lies hidden near the bustling quai by Notre Dame, behind the restaurants and souvenir shops of Saint Michel, and is a perfect place to stock up on second-hand English-language books. The Canadian owner, Brian, will offer you a coffee and allow you to stay in the crammed store for as long as it takes you to scratch the surface of the multitude of books available.
There are a handful of new books, but mostly these are books from expats who have left Paris, or travelers who sold their books before journeying on. In the tall piles of books, you’ll find everything including literature, a Paris-themed section, travel and history, well, actually, anything you might need. Just ask Brian to help you, if you’re looking for something specific, as the store is very full.
The Abbey Bookshop
29 Rue de la Parcheminerie, 75005 Paris
Metro Cluny – La Sorbonne
Open Mon–Sat 10:00–19:00, Closed Sun
Opened back in 1980, Les Mots à la Bouche is the oldest gay bookstore in Paris. Located in Le Marais, the iconic shop offers LGBTQ+ and general literature in both French and English. They have an impressive selection of French and international magazines on the scene, as well as other lifestyle and design journals.
There are DVDs and BDs (graphic novels), calendars, and a gift shop, and the store also often holds regular art exhibitions and author readings.
Les Mots à la Bouche
37 Rue Saint-Ambroise, 75011 Paris
Metro Saint-Paul or Hôtel de Ville
Editor’s note: Article originally published September 18, 2019. Last updated March 12, 2021 to reflect the reopening of Le Pont Traversé.
Wondering where to read your new books? Find a cozy corner in one of these great coffee shops in Paris.
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