However, the two bookstores we did find were great. Shakespeare and Company is quite a well known store in bookselling circles. It is definitely not “just a bookstore” but a haven for booklovers and authors. They have events, festivals, and book signings. When we were there they were having a poetry reading on the second floor. The place is so packed with books that it is very difficult to maneuver around inside because it was also packed with people. But then we found most of Paris to be that way. Everywhere we went was so crowded we could barely breathe.
Shakespeare & Co. has quite a long history. It was originally called Le Mistral and established in 1951. The name was later changed to Shakespeare & Co. by the owner, George Whitman, a former professor of physics, author of science books, soldier, and world traveler. He was a close friend of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and has entertained Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell and Allen Ginsburg, and many other well-known writers, in his store and in his home. He is hospitable, interesting, and some say, eccentric. Others called him “a light in a dull and homogenized world.” He is presently retired and still living in Paris and nearly 100 years old. He must be doing something right.