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Foreign language bookshops in Paris

Cult locations where to find bookish treasures 


Paris is full of small independent bookshops. But do you know the foreign language bookshops of the French capital? In those shops marked by their creator's utopia, literature is a passion that defies borders. 


Shakespeare and Co: English land a stone's throw away from Notre-Damelibrairies_etrangeres_400 

The Shakespeare and Company bookshop is a cult place in Paris. Founded in 1951 by George Whitman, the bookshop specialises in English language literature. It's a social place, but also a place where exchange is critical. On the ground floor, shelves crumble under the number of books. On the first floor, they still invade everything, but sofas and beds can be found. This is what George Whitman defined as "an utopia that pretends to be a bookshop". Many writers like Henry Miller or Allen Ginsberg have stayed there. Today, the bookshop is managed by Sylvia Whitman, the founder's daughter.


Le Phénix, oldest Chinese bookshop in France 

Located in the 3rd district of Paris, Le Phénix bookshop specialises in Asia, and China in particular. It was founded in 1965 by Régis Bergeron, a communist activist with a passion for China. At that time, the bookshop aimed at presenting the People's China to the French. It had just opened when Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution: the bookshop was then flooded with Little Red Books translated in several languages. Today, the bookshop is open to other horizons, even though the owners are still passionate about Asia.


Présence Africaine: bookshop and publishing house 

In 1949, Alioune Diop founded Présence Africaine, a publishing house that aimed at being the voice of every writer of the African continent and its diasporas. The bookshop, that bears the same name, was created in 1960: as first the showcase of the publishing house, it quickly became a place for all works relating to Africa. In 1982, two years after Alioune Diop's death, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (International organisation for Francophonie) created the Alioune Diop award for French-speaking publication, which recognised the cultural legacy of the founder of Présence Africaine.