Paris literary tour: top spots to visit for book lovers

Paris literary tour: top spots to visit for book lovers

by Suswati Basu

A literary tour of Paris in France can take you on a journey through the many writers and poets who have called this city home. This includes the great Victor Hugo, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and many more.

Why is Paris famous for its literary culture?

The city has been famous for literature for centuries, and it has been a centre of literary culture since the Middle Ages. For one thing, the French language has long been associated with culture and refinement, and it has been a language of literature for centuries. French writers like Victor Hugo and Gustave Flaubert were masters of the language and helped shape its literary traditions.

It also has a rich intellectual history that goes back throughout time. The city has been home to many important philosophical and literary movements, including the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Existentialism. For instance, Paris is home to many famous literary cafes, such as Les Deux Magots, which have been gathering places for writers, artists, and intellectuals for centuries.

As a capital, Paris has been home to many important publishing houses, such as Gallimard and Hachette, which have helped shape French literature. It publishes works by writers from all over the world. For this reason, it has inspired countless writers over the years, from Ernest Hemingway to James Baldwin. The city’s beautiful architecture, rich history, and cultural diversity have all been sources of inspiration for writers and poets.

So which places could you visit for the Paris literary tour?

Here are some places you can visit as part of the Paris literary tour:

  • 📚 Shakespeare and Company. This legendary English-language bookstore was frequented by the likes of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s a must-visit for any book lover.
  • 📚 The Latin Quarter. This neighbourhood is home to many famous literary cafes, including Cafe de Flore, Les Deux Magots, and Brasserie Lipp, all of which were frequented by writers and intellectuals like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus.
  • 📚 The Pantheon. This grand neoclassical building houses the remains of many famous French figures, including Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and Emile Zola.
  • 📚 The Musée de la Vie Romantique. This museum is dedicated to the Romantic era in French literature and art, and features the works of writers like George Sand, Alfred de Musset, and Victor Hugo.
  • 📚 The Pere-Lachaise Cemetery. This cemetery is the final resting place of many famous writers, including Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, and Gertrude Stein.
  • 📚 The Sorbonne. Undoubtedly, this prestigious university has been the site of many important literary and philosophical debates throughout the centuries.
  • 📚 The Cafe des Deux Moulins. Of course, this charming cafe was featured in the movie Amélie and is a great spot for a coffee or a light meal while soaking up the literary atmosphere.
  • 📚 The Maison de Victor Hugo. Obviously, this museum is located in the house where Victor Hugo lived from 1832 to 1848 and features many of his personal belongings and manuscripts.
  • 📚 The Bibliothèque Nationale de France. This national library is home to millions of books, manuscripts, and other historical documents, including some of France’s most important literary works.
Paris literary tour on Google Map
Paris literary tour on Google Maps

The route and stops that can be taken:

  • 📚 The Pere-Lachaise Cemetery
  • 📚 The Maison de Victor Hugo
  • 📚 Shakespeare and Company
  • 📚 Bouquinistes. Bouquinistes are secondhand booksellers who operate along the banks of the Seine River in Paris. These sellers offer a unique and historic experience for book lovers visiting the city. The tradition of selling books along the Seine dates all the way back to the 16th century. Booksellers would set up shop on the Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge in Paris. By the time in the 19th century, the bouquinistes began selling their books from small, portable green stalls that were specifically designed for the job. Today, the bouquinistes are recognised as an important part of Parisian culture, and their green stalls have become iconic symbols of the city.
  • 📚 Cafe de Flore. Cafe de Flore is a historic café in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood of Paris. Above all, it has been a gathering place for writers and intellectuals, and was frequented by famous figures like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus. Today, it remains a popular spot for coffee, people-watching, and soaking up Parisian culture.
  • 📚 Mazarine Library (Bibliothèque Mazarine). The Mazarine Library, also known as the Bibliothèque Mazarine, is one of the oldest libraries in France, founded in 1643. It contains over 600,000 documents, including rare manuscripts and incunabula. The library is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris and is open to the public for research and study.
  • 📚 The American Library in Paris. Finally, the American Library in Paris is a cultural institution that provides access to English-language books and other materials for Paris’s English-speaking community. Founded in 1920, it has played an important role in promoting cross-cultural understanding and intellectual exchange. They also host a wide range of cultural events throughout the year.

What The American Library in Paris had to say:

In view of understanding this literary history, I spoke to Mayanne Wright, who was a specialist at The American Library in Paris. Surprisingly, she revealed that the well-known book The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles is based on this institution.

Asked what makes the American Library in Paris so special and vital for visitors to check out, she said: “First, the Library provides a space where the curious, knowledge seekers, and book lovers can find community. The Library’s events (Evenings with an Author, Critical Conversations, Ecologues, Library history tours, etc.), many of which are free and open to the public, offer opportunities to learn more about the world in which we live from experts in different fields or through the eyes of diverse authors.

“The staff, volunteers, and members create a warm environment where visitors can escape from the bustle, find answers to burning questions, or discover stories about expat communities that have lived in Paris. Second, the Library has print collections, books and periodicals, that date back to the 19th century. Students studying fashion or fashion designers can look through magazines documenting the changing styles of the 20th century (this happens regularly).”

“[The] Library provides a space where the curious, knowledge seekers, and book lovers can find community.”

Mayanne Wright, The American Library in Paris

When speaking about The Paris Library, Wright added: “Visitors with an interest in WWII can access copies of periodicals, such as Life magazine and the New Yorker, documenting the war. They can learn about iconic writers or celebrities who have used the Library and they can learn about the Library’s fascinating history, with its noble beginnings, influence on international librarianship, heroic staff and board members, and the occasional spy!”

Overall, Paris has a long history of literary culture. Its language, intellectual history, and cultural institutions have all contributed to its reputation as a centre of literature.

Don’t forget to check out…

With this in mind, remember to check out The Beautiful Book Company subscription review. Furthermore, get 10% off with the code: SUSWATIBASU. Moreover, the subscription allows you to get one handpicked book of your choice by literary specialists.

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