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Paris is full of great bookstores—click here for Our Top 5—, some perfect for artsy coffee table books, others full of the latest literary editions. This one, offers you lots, and I mean lots, of second-hand English books.
Is there anything better than a packed-to-the-rafters bookstore? Maybe if you get a cheery “hello” when you enter, and the offer of a tea or a coffee? Then look no further than Abbey Bookshop, also known as the Canadian Bookstore, probably due to the enormous Canadian flag flying above the shopfront.
Hidden away in a pedestrian passage just steps away from Notre Dame and the bustle of Saint Michel, Canadian expat Brian Spence has filled his little store with so many books that they spill out onto the pavement. And that’s where you usually a thermos of coffee or tea waiting as well. Because inside, well, inside it’s crammed. Let’s just say, I usually don’t visit if I’ve had a big lunch before and still find myself shuffling sideways in between the mile-high bookshelves while holding an already chosen stack of favorites in my hand.
Whether you’re looking for local stories set in Paris or novels written by the literary set of the city, whether you prefer poems or world history, travel writing, classics, or simply want a good whodunnit, you can find it all here. Be patient and peruse or ask Brian for help locating what you’re looking for.
The vast majority of books are second hand, left by travelers needing to shed some weight before check-in, or by local expats preferring to read in English but living in a typically small Parisian apartment. All are in good condition, and I dare you to enter and emerge without buying at least one book.
Brian’s also always happy to take a look at any books you no longer have room for, and will either give you some cash or store credit in return for lightly-used reads.
And when you’re there, you might also see a woman trying to sidle past, clutching a huge stack of books and mumbling, “Only one more, just one…,” that’ll be me!