Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2011 Issue

Booking It in Europe


Paris' Abbey Bookshop, inside and out.

Our next discovery was The Abbey Bookshop on Rue de la Parcheminerie in the Latin Quarter.  It is a great favorite with the ex-pat community.  It is owned by Mr. Brian Pence, a Canadian who opened the store twenty-three years ago.  He had a great selection of books both in English and in many other languages.  Again, they were piled so high and there were so many, that it would have taken a week just to get an idea of what was there.  They say they have 37,000 new and used books in English and will do special orders.  There is a tiny, steep stairway that goes down into the basement and another that goes upstairs.  Only in Europe could you find a bookstore this charming and cluttered, but still orderly. 


The next day we strolled the Left Bank and saw lots and lots of the famous book stalls and artist’s stalls that line the sidewalk.  I bought one small book (no luggage space for more) for my own collection of American West (in Paris, no less).  The next morning we made our way, dragging our suitcases behind us, to Gare Lyon (the train station) to go to Nice, then change trains to Monaco, a long and tortuous journey.  We were met there by our good friend Walter Raymond, Monaco’s Episcopal Priest, and settled into his guest room to take a few days off.


Monaco is a haven for the super-rich.  We did not find any bookstores of note, but we didn’t look too hard.  There were a couple of small stores in which most of the books were in French and a few in Spanish, but they were so expensive, like everything else in Monaco, that we didn’t tarry.  People don’t go to Monaco to read as far as we could see, they go there to shop, gamble, and see and be seen.  Everything is fantastically expensive and if we hadn’t had a good pal to stay with, we would not have gone there.  We did get to go to one of the most extraordinary botanical cactus and succulent gardens we’ve ever seen.  When we left Monaco, we trained off to visit artist friends near Le Lavandou, France which is quite near Cannes.  They own a farm which is also the site of a number of Roman and older ruins.  They have adapted the remains and built an extraordinary house and cottage on the footprints of the old ruins.  Needless to say, they live in a very remote area, so there were no more book stores for the next week.  Next month we’ll travel to Spain and Portugal and see what we can find.

Posted On: 2011-06-01 00:00
User Name: Genet

A pity Ms. Wright didn't look further afield in Paris. The San Francisco Book Company (Rue Monsieur le Prince), only a ten-minute walk from Shakespeare

Posted On: 2011-06-01 00:00
User Name: nco4242

You have to go back. You missed the best part there are numerous stores scattered all around the city and a large Dutch Booksellers Assoc. While many

Posted On: 2011-06-06 00:00
User Name: Durdane

Next time visit Artus Quellinus, which is a part of Amsterdam Book Auctions. We are not really specialized in English books, but we have quite a lot

Posted On: 2011-06-07 00:00


I am afraid that you will find much of Europe's treasures, crowded, and full of treasure seekers like yourself, but don't be put off, everyt

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