So it should come as no surprise (although it kind of does) how many bookstore cafés and bars are to be found in the city.
The Holy Grail of tired, hungry, and thirsty book nerds everywhere, a bookstore bar or café offers the sustenance you need in an environment you crave. Even if the books are in a language you can’t read, they provide a comforting and familiar atmosphere where you can relax and be amongst your people. A travel rarity!
But where can you find these retreats of literary libation? Voila! Here’s a short list of the most notable and highest ranked bookstore bars and cafés found in Paris proper.
(Note that in France a café may serve everything from coffee to cocktails and full meals, or it may simply serve non-alcoholic beverages and pastries. A bar, on the other hand, will usually only offer drinks and snacks or, at most, tapas-style appetizers.)
La Belle Hortense, 4th arr.
31 Rue Vieille du Temple
Shakespeare & Co. Café, 5th arr.
37 rue de la Bûcherie
Shakespeare & Company is arguably the most famous bookstore in Paris, at least for English-speakers, and an absolute must-stop for every bookworm and literary ghost chaser in the city. Recently, they added a café to their bookish empire, run in collaboration with Bob’s Bake Shop. Dining options include George Whitman’s apparently famous lemon pie (I’ve never heard of it, but hey, pie!), a “Flapjack Kerouac,” “The Bun Also Rises,” and “A Movable Feast” picnic lunch box. Never let it be said they did not run with the literary puns.
La Halle Saint-Pierre, 18th arr.
2 rue Ronsard
Merci’s Used Book Café, 4th arr.
111 boulevard Beaumarchais
Merci is a concept store with clothing, housewares, and knick-knacks. Think Crate & Barrel but cool and Parisian. Connected to Merci is the Used Book Café, a café filled with tens of thousands of interesting books and a lovely outdoor garden space. It’s the perfect place to sit and browse through a book while enjoying coffee, tea, or a pastry. You don’t have to stop in Merci to reach the café, but if you’re interested, pourquoi pas.
Le Barbouquin, 20th arr.
1 rue Dénoyez
A super chill café in the Belleville neighborhood with a ’60s, laid-back vibe. You can find books in both French and English and flip through them before you buy. If you’re searching for a café with an authentically artsy, bohemian air, Le Barbouquin sounds like your new home away from home.
Le Café Livres, 4th arr.
10 rue Saint-Martin
If you can rip your eyes away from the view of the Tour Saint-Jacques, you’ll find a charming café and bar here with plenty of atmosphere. And tourists! Fortunately the “livres” hook isn’t just a gimmick. Sink into one of the many novels lining the indoor shelves and enjoy a glass of wine or beer–or coffee!–on your way to and from some of Paris’ biggest sights. Meal options are also available, though the menu is limited.
The 108 (Le Cent Huit), 19th arr.
4 impasse de Joinville
About a ten minute walk away from the futuristic Cité des sciences et de l’industrie (Europe’s largest science museum), this is an unpretentious and cozy café/bookstore famous for its all-you-can-eat brunch buffets. If you get lucky you may also catch some live music or an author signing. It’s out-of-the-way for most tourists, but if you’re on the lookout for a unique neighborhood or just mad about science, it could be the best café stop of your trip.
Did I miss one of your favorite Paris bookstore bars or cafés? Share ’em in the comments!