A Book-Lover’s Guide to Literary Spots in ParisApril 13, 2017 10:00 am
Step off the page and into the world of French literature at these literary spots in Paris
Paris is a city bursting at the seams with culture and it’s a haven for any book-loving tourist, with museums, secondhand bookstores, famous cafés and more filling its arrondissements. From Victor Hugo to Oscar Wilde, here’s some of the best literary spots in Paris below.
Cimitiére du Pére Lachaise
Pay your respects to some of the best literary minds in the world at Cimitiére du Pére Lachaise, whose inhabitants are frequently visited by like-minded tourists. With popular French writers such as the poet Apollinaire, Marcel Proust, Balzac, Charles Baudelaire alongside Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Susan Sontag just to name a few buried there, their graves are frequently covered in colourful tributes. In fact, Oscar Wilde’s grave is so popular that the cemetery has had to erect a barrier around it.
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Shakespeare and Company
Ever wondered where writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Allen Ginsberg, Dave Eggers and Hemingway bought their books from? Shakespeare and Company, a literary institution which closed in the 40s but has since been given a second lease on life in a new location, has a long history as the hub of English-language literature in Paris. Its comforting interiors including a reading room, free-to-play piano and beds make it a popular place for writers bashing out their newest novel.
Café de Flore
Stop for a coffee and a dash of inspiration at Left Bank’s Café de Flore, a high end café frequented by the elites of Paris’ arts scene. Aside from notable directors and artists lounging at its tables, writers are the lifeblood of the clientele. It rose to prominence around World War 2, when it was one of the few places the German army didn’t frequent and intellectuals flocked to its tables.
Maison du Victor Hugo
Best known for his work Les Miserables which follows the tumultuous French Revolution, Victor Hugo’s former apartment has been transformed into a museum with a collection of his works. Detailing the course of his life and full of the writer’s personal effects (including an entire room dedicated to his wide collection of Chinese art), his home is a must-visit for anybody who’s a fan of Hugo’s work.
Les Deux Magots
It’s no surprise that the literary community in France knows all the coolest places to grab a drink and Les Deux Magots remains one of them. Located just across the road from Café de Flore, they both rose to prominence around the same time in the wake of World War Two and its clientele is just as impressive: Verlaine, Rimbaud, Hemingway and Simone de Beauvoir are just a fraction of their patrons. The bar remains true to its influence in the writing sphere and launched a literary prize in 1933 which persists to this day.
These small riverside book stalls are an iconic sight in Paris, lining the pavements by the River Seine with colourful secondhand books. They’ve been a feature of the city’s literary community for hundreds of years and while they’re scattered all over the city, many can be found near the Notre Dame on the riverbanks. In fact, the Bouqinistes in that area were deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 and continue to spread the love of the written word to this day.