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The Abbey Bookshop: History, Coffee & Paris’ Other Anglophone Bookstore!

Welcome to one of my favourite little corners of Paris, that of the Latin Quarter. Wander away from the Banks of Seine. Step away from the ever iconic and incredibly famous Shakespeare and Co., and escape the crowds of Notre Dame. Head down the little cobbled lanes that form mazes in this part of the city. Soon enough, you’ll likely come across books spilling out onto the street and the smell of coffee wafting down a little-known Parisian lane. This is the Abbey Bookshop, a store selling all manner of new, vintage, and rare books.

And here’s the view from their front door…

The Abbey Bookshop, Latin Quarter, Paris, France: view

The Abbey Bookshop: A Brief History

Founded in 1989 by Canadian book lover, Brian Spence, the magical store is situated in the very heart of the Latin Quarter. So-called because, during the middle ages, students from the nearby universities would converse with one another solely in Latin, this arrondissement of the city includes all-time tourist favourites such as the Paris Pantheon, Sorbonne University.

And of course, in the 5e, you’ll also find Shakespeare and Co. Bookshop sitting squarely along the Seine. Well, let me introduce you to Paris’ other bookstore, and it’s well worth a visit. After all, it’s not only the city’s first English/Canadian bookshop but filled with quirky reading nooks and has over 35,000 works in English.

The Abbey Bookshop, Latin Quarter, Paris, France: entryway

In a somewhat fitting manner, the actual address for the Abbey Bookshop is number 29 Rue de la Parcheminerie, a lane dating back to the 13th century, and perhaps beyond. The road is so named for all of the parchment makers and sellers that once lived and conducted business in this very road.

Prior to its current name, the road was called Rue des Escrivains, and was named for the scribes that lived here in the middle ages. The scribes were the heart and soul of Parisian book trading before the parchmenters took over.

Today, the Abbey Bookshop is located in Hotel Dubuisson, a protected monument that was built in the 18th-Century. While much of the rest of the street has been modernised, the former hôtel retains many of its sumptuous original features; carvings on the façade, a lofty entrance way and solid doors.

The Abbey Bookshop, Latin Quarter, Paris, France: façade

Visiting the Abbey Bookshop

Opening times | Monday-Saturday, 10am-7pm

Metro | Saint Michel (line 4)

Payment methods | If you find a book worth purchasing (and it’s hard not to come away with a souvenir or two considering all of the offerings!), then cash, Visa and Mastercard are all accepted.

The Abbey Bookshop, Latin Quarter, Paris, France: books!

The first thing that strikes you when you finally make your way inside is the precarious position of the books. This is not a shop filled with books, but books with a little room in-between.

Boxes of books. Piles of books. Row upon row of them. Some vintage, others rare, many well worn and obviously well loved. In total, there are over 40,000 books, mostly in English.

In an increasingly Internet-driven world, stepping into the Abbey Bookshop is a welcome breath of fresh air, a vanishing gem in a sea of a constant stream of online media.

You could easily pass a couple of hours browsing the floor-to-ceiling stacked shelves, speaking with the friendly staff (including Brian himself, often), and enjoying the music. All in all, the Abbey Bookshop is easily one of the best bookshops in Europe.

The Abbey Bookshop, Latin Quarter, Paris, France: boxes of books

And when the bookstore is open, there’s always a welcoming pot of coffee so you can enjoy a hot beverage while perusing the books. Heaven (is in Paris!)

The Abbey Bookshop, Latin Quarter, Paris, France: coffee
The Abbey Bookshop, Latin Quarter, Paris, France: Anglophone bookstore in the city of love
The Abbey Bookshop, Latin Quarter, Paris, France: The other Anglophone bookstore of the 5e arrondissement in the City of Love. Hidden gem filled with books and coffee!

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Anna Bay

Friday 16th of February 2018

I just found your blog! And I'm glad I did! I'm a travel blogger myself, but have actually had a hard time finding travel blogs I wanted to read! your picture are absolutely stunning :D I can't wait to keep up with your posts!

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