Article by Casey Coviello, American Expat in Paris for “The Tourist in Paris”. More about Casey here.
Want to follow in the footsteps of Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and other expats that paved the way for an American presence in Paris?
Rather than pay 8 euros for a café crème at the now tourist-laden cafés the Lost Generation artists once frequented (Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magots if you must know), instead visit the historical bookstore where the literary legends learned their craft.
Shakespeare and Co. is one of Paris’ oldest and most celebrated bookstores, facing Notre-Dame.
In the ‘20s it served as a gathering place for expat writers, a presence that can still be felt in its beatnik decor and the revolving door of international volunteers restocking the shelves with version after version of A Moveable Feast.
Cruise through sections on the Beat Poets, the Lost Generation, and French classics translated to English, then head upstairs to find a play-at-will piano, a smattering of typewriters available for use, and two libraries stuffed with old books and replete with lounge chairs.
If you’re feeling really adventurous you can opt to “tumbleweed,” sleeping on one of the couches upstairs in exchange for volunteer work.
The bookshop also hosts weekly and seasonal events, including “The Bard-en-Seine Readings,” open readings of celebrated Shakespeare plays with parts allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
When? Every day from 10am to 11pm
Where? Shakespeare and Company
37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris
Metro stations: Cité, Saint-Michel (Line 4)