Last updated on March 2, 2020
The city of Paris has always been an international hub of literary culture and, regardless of your literary taste, is an undeniable heaven for bibliophiles.
As a book-lover you’ll be unable to tear yourself away from the literary hubs sprawled across Paris. Plan your literary tour accordingly and visit one, two, three, or all of these places in Paris for literary lovers.
Tip: You can also find a great tour to take you around this enchanting city.
Here are 9 places in Paris you should definitely visit if you love books and literature:
1. The Bookstalls on the River Seine
Along the streets in front of the River Seine, you will see small bookstalls. As inconspicuous as these stalls may be, you will find a treasure of literature inside them.
The tradition of selling books in these stalls dates back to 16th century France. It was during the Wars of Religion that many of these booksellers sold literature that proselytized Protestanism.
It is a testament to the rebelliousness and freethinking which has made Paris a hub for intellectuals. And that tradition remains.
You will find great secondhand books from every subject imaginable at these bookstalls. Don’t forget to stop by as you stroll down the River Seine.
2. Shakespeare and Company
If you do not ‘parlez vouz francaise’ do not worry, there is a place for you in the heart of Paris.
This famous bookshop was founded by an American expatriate, George Whitman, in the early twentieth century and has been a hub for English-language books and English-language writers. Originally started as Left Bank Paris, the bookshop attracted many Anglophone writers from Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald.
To this day, you will find the latest English-language bestsellers available. If you are lucky, you may spot a book reading and a talk by a popular Anglophone writer.
Make sure you pay this historical Parisian bookshop a visit!
3. Café de Flore
If you want to not only be in a space where books are sold but also one where writers congregate, then Cafe de Flore is your spot.
This cafe has been open since the late 1800s. It has been a meeting spot for great French writers. It later became the studio for Charles Maurras, Guillaume Apollinaire, and André Salmon.
If you visit today, you will find French writers, old and new, discussing their craft over a cup of delicious coffee.
4. Maison de Victor Hugo
No literary lover would miss a trip to the home of famed French writer Victor Hugo.
There was perhaps no greater writer who wrote about the enchantment of Paris the way that Victor Hugo did. His home has now become a museum dedicated to his life and his works.
If you are a fan of his writing you should visit his home. If you are unfamiliar with his works, you should still visit his home, and you are sure to become a fan overnight!
5. Musée de la Vie Romantique
The locale of Montmarte is one of Paris’ greatest hubs for art. This extends to being a great hub for literature. At the foot of the Montmarte Hill, you will find the Musée de la Vie Romantique.
Among the collection of art from the Romantic period, you will find the legacy of the writer George Sand. This is a great place to explore the literary history of one of France’s most enigmatic writers.
The outdoor cafe is also a great meeting ground for aspiring writers and literary aficionados alike.
6. Harry’s New York Bar
If you want to surround yourself with the expatriate community in Paris, then this is the place.
Founded and named after a Scot who started the bar, this is the hangout for creative expatriates – including many writers based in Paris. Hemingway was a regular customer at Harry’s.
And if you go to Harry’s you may meet the next Hemingway!
7. Maison de Balzac
This is the former home of renowned French novelist Honoré de Balzac. It has been turned into a museum honouring his literary legacy.
He was known as one of the pioneers of realism in all of European literature. He served as an influence for many of Europe’s great novelists.
Like Victor Hugo’s home, even if you are not familiar with his works – you will want to check out his home. And you may become a fan in the process.
8. The American Library In Paris
This is Europe’s largest English-language library. It is near the Eiffel Tower and consists of books that were first sent to soldiers during the First World War.
It boasts an enormous and eclectic collection of literary works in the English language.
This is one of the best places to get lost in Paris.
9. La Closerie des Lilas
Legend has it that F. Scott Fitzgerald showed Ernest Hemingway the manuscript to The Great Gatsby at this quaint bistro. It has long been a meeting point for literary geniuses.
Many great poets would recite and share their work during the days. At night, American novelists would debate and discuss literature while enjoying the chilly nights of Paris.
This is located in Paris’ Montparnasse neighbourhood. It mostly caters to locals, so if you want an authentic experience away from the usual tourist traps, then this is the place to be!
Make it Happen
Get there: I always use Omio to find the fastest and cheapest flights, trains and buses – perfect for getting to and around Paris.
More from Paris, ‘The City of Dreams’
The capital city of France has always been a popular international destination. Whether it is for the cuisine, the history, the art scene, the cinema, or the literary scene it is a place to visit.