Librairie Nike

by Ruby on October 5, 2010

Amsterdam, London… now on to Paris! Here I stayed with a couple of family friends, Susan and Bruno, and they happily pointed me in the right direction to find books, bookstores, and book-related fun. I also had two books to purchase in France – a friend wanted a copy of Gossip Girl in French, to help learn colloquial expressions and the like (what better book to teach you that than Gossip Girl?), and I wanted a French copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for my slowly growing “Harry Potter from other countries” collection (right now, all I have is a copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets from England).

This all turned out to be a little easier said than done.

Goal 1: bookstores. Look, it’s a Librairie!

A… librairie selling nike retail products. Not a bookstore at all. (click to enlarge)

I didn’t let that get me down (actually I laughed pretty hard), and instead, I took a quick tour of Victor Hugo’s house, tucked away in a square overlooking a park, and stopped by Café de Flore for their famous scrambled eggs, also enjoyed by Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and many other French intellectuals (there’s also a literary prize awarded there every year).

I spotted a few books here and there, mainly in these cool little lockboxes they have all along the Seine. Most were selling used and antique books, plus posters and other souvenirs, which could then be tucked away and locked up for the night!

It wasn’t until my last day in Paris, though, that I really found what I was looking for. That’s when Susan took me to Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés – Paris’ literary district.

There were bookstores everywhere! Crammed in among stores selling new and used books of all kinds were agent’s and publisher’s offices, everything you would need to publish a book in Paris. Some of the publishers and imprints were new to me, but I recognized a few, like Hachette, which is apparently also the largest publishing company in France, and second largest in the world.

That’s the office for their children’s imprint, and they had another office down the street.

Lots of stores had sale books outside, sometimes whole tables covered in books for 0,20€ (less than a dollar US).

There were bookstores everywhere. Also on that subject… Gibert Jeune. This is where we ended up finding Gossip Girl: Tome 1: Ca fait tellement de bien de dire du mal, (roughly: “It feels so good to tell lies”). There were Gibert Jeunes everywhere – I counted six visible from the fountain plaza that is the actual “place” in Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Six! The plaza is not that big. To be fair, though, it’s really a bookstore the size of Vromans, or maybe even bigger, divided by subject. So you go to this Gibert Jeune for fiction, this one for travel books, this one for stationery, cards, and school supplies – etc. This is the Gibert Jeune for Langues et Lettres du Monde Entier, or books in and about languages from all over the world.

Here’s a quick pic of my absolute favorite bookstore in Paris. They specialized in used books, but that didn’t seem to stop them from, well, having a ton of books.

And yes, that’s a blurry Michael Crichton in the foreground. Even in Paris, those writing in english reigned supreme.

I also found my Harry Potter- Harry Potter à l’école des sorciers (Harry Potter at the School for Sorcerers), which I feel has a touch less punch than Sorcerer’s Stone, but no matter. My Foreign Harry Potter count is now up to two.