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Hello. My name is Ulrike and I am a book addict. Avid reader, bookworm, writer needing to refill her reservoir of words on a regular basis. Call it what you will, but I can’t walk past a bookstore, regardless of the language of their offerings. I also have a dream of owning a grand house big enough for a library complete with ladders, so until then, I have made the Librairie Galignani on Rue de Rivoli my second home in Paris.
Claiming to be the first English bookstore opened in continental Europe, the Galignani name has been associated with publishing and selling books since 1520, although starting off in Venice. Their Paris bookshop is a historic gem, even if the current store was only opened back in the 1930s.
Residing under the pretty colonnades with the even prettier mosaic floors opposite the Tuileries Gardens, next to the oh-so luxurious Hotel Le Meurice and oh-so popular Café Angelina, you’d expect the shop to be chic, and you won’t be disappointed. Very unlike the packed-to-the-rafters second-hand English bookstores that I usually frequent in Paris, this one is wide, open, and light, with longed-for library ladders and beautiful books on gleaming wooden shelves.
When I first went in, I felt a little intimidated, not just by the impressive looking place, but all the quite literally heavyweight history and culture books. After all, I was just looking for a handbag-sized English book for reading on the metro.
I found those right at the back, in the section lit by a beautiful sky light. Their English selection includes plenty of books, from the latest bestsellers to classic literature in alphabetical order, not to mention a vast collection of books about Paris, all making perfect gifts.
The staff is very knowledgeable, knowing exactly what you are talking about even if you throw a terribly approximative title at them and can order anything for you, should it not be in stock for some reason.
This is a place to linger, browse, and remember that you are in one of the chicest areas of Paris, even if you are looking for a foreign language book. Or maybe you’re not? No worries, because the French selection is just as good, with all those impressive coffee table books thrown in as a bonus.
Galignani is not only a wonderful shop to get your next English book fix, but also to find something special for that someone special.