Today we are hopping across the channel to celebrate the continent’s first English language bookshop, Galignani!
The humble – or in Galignani’s case, not so humble – bookshop has long been a cornerstone of French culture and society, and the French minister for culture has even introduced measures to dissuade French customers from buying books from big online retailers. Although Paris is peppered with shining examples of the value of independent bookstores, for sheer selection and multilingual, super-helpful staff, we encourage all avid readers to make the pilgrimage to this mecca of literature.
Here’s what Galignani have to say on the subject:
Librairie Galignani is a place where books are not mere products meant to be sold, but rather precious objects of wisdom and aesthetic delight.
Galignani has been based at its sumptuous Rue de Rivoli location since 1856 and its long history is manifest in the dark wooden bookshelves, rolling ladders and old-school dedication to superior service. In fact, the Galignani family have been publishing since the sixteenth century – not long after the printing press was invented! The first manuscript they published was a Latin grammar, but these days Galignani is a haven for weary tourists and homesick expats who saunter down the Rue de Rivoli from the Louvre to revel in the best selection of English-language books in the land.
Despite being known for its extensive collection of lovely English editions, Galignani is a truly international bookshop that offers books in a multitude of tongues; but their speciality is spectacular coffee table books that will shatter your Ryanair luggage allowance. During the German occupation, Galignani were banned from selling books in English, and the unparalleled selection of fine art books they were then forced to specialise in continues to define their trade today.
It goes without saying that stepping inside Galignani is a feast for the eyes, but even the window displays are a visual treat. Galignani make a point of updating their windows every fortnight to entice readers in with a wealth of books on the hot topics of the moment. They collaborate with the crème de la crème of French designers; this Christmas they featured a gorgeous display of mini Dior gowns inspired by Dior’s lush fashion tomes. Even Karl Lagerfeld has been spotted browsing the shelves, and if it’s good enough for the King of Chanel, it’s good enough for us!
Or if you happen to find yourself in Paris: 224 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France