Between the antique book markets all over town and several charming English-language bookstores, it's tough to pick a single favorite place to pick up some reading material when in the city. That's why we've compiled a list of the best bookshops in Paris according to a few different criteria.
If you love books, then you’re in for a treat in Paris! Narrowing the best shops for book lovers 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 the famous Shakespeare and Company. The store’s reputation has spread worldwide and there is no reader who doesn’t know to pop into that shop when in Paris. On the other hand, you might not have heard about the canal boat L’Eau et Les Rêves moored on the Bassin de la Villette combining books and café to perfection, but you will certainly should check out this most unusual setting for a bookstore when in the City of Light.
There are bookstores 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 bookstores.
This is a list of my five absolute favorites, all loved for a different reason and offering quite different approaches to selling 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 are still visible inside among the floor-to-ceiling books, and it’s still known as the Old Butcher’s Bookstore by the locals. Stop in for antique books, poetry, or just a lovely souvenir bag with the store’s picture on it and the photo opportunity.
Le Pont Traversé
62 Rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris
Metro Rennes or Saint-Placide
Mon – Fri 13:00 – 19:00, Sat 15:00 – 19:00, Sun Closed
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 Saturday a book market sets up under the old marché roof where once the butchers of Vaugirard plied their trade. Now, you can browse for books for hours, finding everything from old maps to comics, from novels in every language to historic travel guides. Everybody selling something different and bartering 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, Mon – Fri Closed
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, Sun Closed
Opened back in 1980, Les Mots à la Bouche is the oldest gay bookstore in Paris. Located in the gay quarter of the 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
6 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris
Metro Saint-Paul or Hôtel de Ville
Mon 11:00 – 20:00, Tues – Sat, 11:00 – 23:00, Sun 13:00 – 20:00