Thursday, June 3, 2010

Angels in Disguise

In honor of the deliciously dreary rain that seems to have followed me from Paris to my home in Raleigh, I decided today would be the perfect day to share with you one of my most loved rainy day activities. 

Since laying on the couch watching a marathon day of backlogged movie selections doesn’t provide much in the way of visual content, I will give you my second best.   Which is actually really much better anyway.

Who doesn’t love settling down with a good book, or even just a decent book, somewhere cozy on a drizzly grey day?    And I mean an old fashioned book, with pages and a little weight in your hands, not the kindle kind.   Although I have to say, the kindle is great for travel.   So convenient and better yet, lightweight.

Since I had an afternoon to kill in Paris and I needed a break from museum going, I meandered over to Shakespeare and Company.    A visit to this literary shrine was on my list already, but got a bump up due to this fabulous post by fellow blogger Ponder and Stitch.   The pictures looked, well, really inviting.    Can’t you just imagine curling up here for awhile?

Shakespeare and Company was founded by an American, Sylvia Beach in 1917.    It quickly became a haven for fellow Americans in Paris.   Writers and other artsy types would hang here.   You may be familiar with some of the names.   James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, the list goes on.    They were all embraced and welcomed here.    Shakespeare and Company actually published the first version of Joyce’s Ulysses when no one else would.    And get this, the shop was so welcoming, that they provided and continue to provide a temporary home for penniless writers who may need a place to stay for a bit while they are working on getting discovered.     There is an actual bed and lots of cozy little corners inside where you can envision someone curled up.   I know from experience that books are a little like pillows.   Somewhere to rest your head for awhile. 

The one rule for someone staying is that you must read one book a day.   What a great rule. 

I crossed the Seine and headed with great anticipation to the site.    Tucked away on the street surrounded by typical Parisian cafes, even the outside is super inviting.   Piles of old books, colorful benches and chairs scattered, old signs and an open door.   Given the weather when I arrived, there were quite a few people inside mulling around.    This place is jam packed with books, floor to ceiling and everywhere in between.   The bottom floor houses new books for sale.  Up the back stair, lives a lending library where you can find the cozy corners and lots of places to sit and absorb.     Even an old fashioned type writer.   

And my favorite thing of all, a sign above the door saying “Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.”   Think about that.   Fabulous isn’t it?   You just never know.

A perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon in Paris.     I hope that they stick around forever and weather the storm that is the larger bookseller corporations.     So much character, history, warmth.   One more example of why Paris is such a romantically wonderful city.   Small personal surprises around every corner.     Stay tuned for later when I share how I decided to spend the rest of this delicious afternoon!


  1. I absolutely adore small book stores! Well, I like the chains too as we don't have too many small book stores around but that one looks so inviting! My poor boyfriend would have to drag me out of there! I've always been the geeky girl that dreams of having a library filled with first editions.

  2. Your pictures are fabulous! I am super jealous right now!
    I grew up in Hillsborough, NC...used to party in Raleigh all the time. How is it? I miss NC

  3. Beautiful photographs and wonderful commentary.


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