Paris, the City of Love, has always been a magnet for artists and writers. This article will guide you through its rich literary tapestry, where books and the city’s history are forever entwined.
When one thinks of Paris, it’s often the Eiffel Tower, romantic Seine River cruises, and mouth-watering croissants that come to mind. However, for the bibliophiles and history enthusiasts amongst us, Paris has a deeper allure: its literary heritage.
Shakespeare and Company: More than Just a Bookshop
Nestled on the Left Bank opposite Notre-Dame, Shakespeare and Company is arguably the most famous independent bookstore in the world. Established by Sylvia Beach in 1919, it was a sanctuary for the Lost Generation writers including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Sylvia Beach was the first to publish James Joyce’s “Ulysses” when others deemed it too controversial?
Today, the shop continues to be a haven for writers, readers, and travelers alike. The worn-out couches, poetic inscriptions, and makeshift beds (for Tumbleweeds, or aspiring writers who stay in the shop) all add to its charm.
Les Deux Magots & Café de Flore: Where Literary and Philosophical Giants Gathered
These two cafes in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood were the preferred hangouts for intellectuals like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus. Today, while sipping on a café au lait, you can almost hear the echoes of heated debates and passionate discussions about existentialism and the meaning of life.
The Montparnasse Cemetery: Resting Place of Literary Legends
It might seem macabre, but cemeteries in Paris are not just places of mourning but also of celebration. The Montparnasse Cemetery hosts the graves of literary giants like Charles Baudelaire, Samuel Beckett, and Marguerite Duras. Walking among the graves is like paying homage to those who forever changed the world of literature.
The Abbey Bookshop: A Cozy Canadian Corner
Owned by a Canadian, this quaint shop is crammed from floor to ceiling with over 35,000 titles, primarily in English. The comforting scent of old paper and the labyrinthine arrangement of books offer a sense of wonder for every visitor. And, if you’re lucky, you might be offered a cup of the owner’s signature Canadian maple tea!
Maison de Victor Hugo: Where Classics Came to Life
The grand townhouse at Place des Vosges was where Victor Hugo penned parts of “Les Misérables.” Transformed into a museum, it offers a deep dive into the life and works of this literary genius. Manuscripts, first editions, and personal belongings all give an intimate glimpse into his world.
Paris, with its deep-rooted literary history, is a must-visit for every book lover. Each corner, café, and cobblestone seems to whisper tales of bygone eras, of writers who passionately penned their masterpieces, and of revolutions both in society and in literature. As Victor Hugo rightly said, “To study in Paris is to be born in Paris!” So, put on your most comfortable shoes, grab your favorite book, and embark on a literary pilgrimage in the heart of France.