Paris: Shakespeare & Company bookstore and home for writers

Shakespeare and Company is one of those rare places in the world where it’s impossible for magic not to happen. Born in Paris, originally in 1919 and then separately recreated in 1951, by two literary parents: Sylvia Beach and George Whitman respectively, this precious bookstore has housed many a writer literally – and still does even to this day, it’s estimated 30,000 in fact.

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

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Live inside the bookstore

The affectionately named ‘tumbleweeds’ (writers who can live in the bookstore), are  granted a place to rest their head and to poise their pen – in exchange for opening and closing the store, an autobiography and their promise to read a book every day. The latter two were originally conditions created by Whitman himself, and the program still exists to this day. I know the minimum stay duration is a week, but I’m unsure of the maximum – although I believe it can be months.

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My experience in the bookstore was incredible – it didn’t disappoint. But it wasn’t the majestic storefront of charming features that truly gripped me. It was upstairs, where it becomes eerily quiet. As I stood in a small box room with only piano and bed like seat to accompany me and of course, books – I found myself inspired to write a poem there and then; it was almost like one of the greats had granted me a short smile – and it had sent my spirit/ the writer in me in motion.

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Next door there is a café (I really love cafés if you don’t know) where you can have a coffee, read a book or take in the views of the Notre Dame. Something I remember vividly is the mats on the table of the coffee shop. They offer thought-provoking questions perfect for getting to know someone you are with, or even yourself.

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Views from the cafe

Location

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Click for the route to Shakespeare and Company in Google Maps

Info

Shakespeare and Company Facebook Page

shakespeareandcompany.com

+33 1 43 25 40 93

37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France

The poem

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A read of the poem I wrote while in Shakespeare and Company

 

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