Reading Around the World: Paris

by Whit
Reading and Travel: Paris

I’ve returned from my trip to Paris and London. If you follow Literary Quicksand on Instagram, you may have seen pictures showcasing some of the reading adventures on my trip. While away from my home in Minnesota, I made sure to take time to read in between site-seeing. Museums and monuments are exciting, but I am an ardent introvert. I believe there is merit in taking a time-out during a trip to recharge and read a book. In fact, simply reading in a Parisian café was just as pleasurable as any museum visit.

So, it gave me the idea to start a series of Reading Around the World posts. LQ contributors can write about their favorite spots to read or their favorite bookshops or libraries in any city they visit. My usual reading routine is curling up in my bed and covering myself with an excessive amount of blankets and pillows. But with travel, there are so many new settings to read in. It definitely adds flair to that humdrum routine of reading in bed. This first Reading Around the World post covers the city of Paris.

Reading and Traveling: Paris

A Room with a View

My fiancé and I stayed in a lovely AirBnB flat with a wonderfully welcoming host. (Note unrelated to books: I have sworn off hotels. I am officially an AirBnB convert.) The flat had a view that looked out onto the street and the neighboring buildings. It was the perfect early morning spot for reading. I would sit in the bedroom, the pale light shining through the large window and the breeze rustling through the flowers hanging from the windowsill, and wait for my fiancé to wake up so we could start our day.

Reading and Traveling: Paris

Outside the Café des Peupliers

Reading and Traveling: Paris

Reading at Breakfast

We were far enough from the busy sections of the city to find some cafés tucked away that were perfect for sitting down for a book and coffee. While cafés in the city center were lively and loud, my favorite spot, Café des Peupliers in the 13th arrondissement, offered a quiet sojourn to breakfast and read. The servers were kind and helpful, the coffee was strong, and the petit déjeuner was delicious. We tried a couple of cafés in the city, but Café des Peupliers was definitely my favorite.

Reading and Traveling: Paris

Cimetière du Montparnasse

Reading and Traveling: Paris

The Paris Métro

Some less obvious spots to read are cemeteries and the métro. Cimetière du Montparnasse was quiet and absolutely stunning. Benches were positioned alongside the small road that ran through the grave sites, and a large wall enclosed the cemetery, keeping out the noise of the street beyond. The cemetery is also open to anyone. I observed people leisurely strolling or sitting and pigeon-watching. At one point, a group of young, uniformed students passed by, all trying to keep their voices down as they chatted amongst themselves. The atmosphere was calm and leisurely, and it was the perfect location to rest and read.

In contrast to the cemetery, the métro is a bustling and somewhat noisy spot for a quick read. Despite the bustle, the sounds soon became white noise after I found a seat and got lost in a book. I spent quite a bit of time on the métro, as it was the easiest way to travel within the city, and the ride allowed me a bit of time to unwind in-between sites and complete a few pages of the book I brought with.

Reading and Traveling: Paris

Book Stall Along the Seine

Reading and Traveling: Paris

At the Marché aux puces – Porte de Vanves

Paris offered many occasions to find books in places other than the bookstore. A large flea market that opens every Saturday and Sunday (Marché aux puces – Porte de Vanves) offered stalls covered in gorgeous antique books at affordable prices. Of course, they were mostly written in French, but I also came across beautiful art books and charming children’s books that would appeal to non-French speakers as well.

Along the Seine, near the Cathedral of Notre Dame, tourists can find outdoor booths that not only sell art, but offer a wide selection of used books. My only regret on the trip was the fact that I didn’t have enough room in my luggage to buy all the books that I wanted.

At the end of my stay in Paris, I was able to find room in my luggage for a few small books, and I purchased a pocket copy of a French translation of The Hobbit (one of my favorite books of all time).

Reading and Traveling: Paris

My French Copy of The Hobbit

Paris is a wonderful destination for readers, offering beautiful settings in which to sit and read and unique venues for finding new books. It’s the perfect destination for a book collector of antique books, french editions, or elaborate art books.

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