“I created this bookstore like a man would write a novel, building each room like a chapter, and I like people to open the door the way they open a book, a book that leads into a magic world in their imaginations.” —George Whitman
A Left Bank literary institution since 1951, the English-language bookshop Shakespeare and Company remains a treasured meeting place for anglophone writers and readers today. Located in the heart of Paris, on the banks of the Seine opposite Notre-Dame, people of all nationalities come to read, write, and even sleep at the bookstore every day. Although a temple to the written word, words don’t seem to do this place justice. You need to wander deep into the rabbit hole, inhale the smell of aging, dusty hardbacks piled high on endless wooden shelves, where you can explore your dreams, travel through time, and escape the outside world. Climb the creaky stairs to the second floor where you will most likely find Kitty (there is always a resident cat and it is always named Kitty after Anne Frank’s imaginary friend) sleeping on the worn leather sofa or precariously draped over the old Underwood typewriter. As you purchase your books, be sure to ask for a Shakespeare and Company stamp and perhaps a memory mark–a small memento left behind by previous visitors. For a few euros more, the staff will even add a poem and a photo keepsake. Whether your first visit to Paris or your 100th, you will always be lured back down the literary rabbit hole.