Where to write

If you’re going to write, you might as well find a beautiful place to do it. I’m happy to write at home, on the couch, on the floor, at the dining table, or even at a desk, but I also love to get out and find new places. It’s Paris, after all; time to make the most of it!

Coffee conundrum

Coffee shops here, sad to say, can’t really compete with what we’ve got going on in America. Expensive joe in small cups in places that aren’t terribly laptop friendly. And even most cafés that are good for setting up the computer don’t have the greatest coffee. So, while I never imagined it happening here, Starbucks has become my friend. I’ve found a few I like (and they’re just like you’d imagine), but I’ve got my sights on one that I just learned about that’s nothing like what’s back home in the States. Stay tuned.

One great coffee place that recently opened is run by the famed Shakespeare & Co. (which also has a room in the bookstore where you can read or write or hang out as well). Good coffee and views of Notre Dame? Absolutely!

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Writing very quietly

If the coffee isn’t that great, why not just hit the library? Why not, indeed! We have a membership at the American Library in Paris, which is great for checking out books (I just picked up three by Ray Bradbury) and videos, but it’s a bit sterile as far as the writing environment goes. But this is Paris, so have no fear, an opulent library isn’t far.

Today I joined the Bibliothèque Mazarine, fifteen euros for a year’s access. If you’ve been to Paris, you’ve probably seen the dome of the building it’s housed in:

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View from the Pont des arts (the Love Lock bridge–although the locks are gone now)

It’s full of old, rare books and is run with military precision. You must clear security, check in, and then are assigned a specific place to sit. Don’t even think about talking or eating or drinking or taking photographs unless you want to lose your visa and be on the next flight to wherever the French dump enemies of the state. But once settled inside, it’s a wonderful place to work. I think I’ll be spending more time at the library than ever before.

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Don’t worry, I found these photos online. I didn’t want to lose my privileges on my first day!

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Bibliophiles in Paris

If you speak English and you like books, you have to go to Shakespeare & Co., just across the Seine from Notre Dame. Everyone knows this, which is why the little warren of narrow corridors and the single stairway among the stacks and stacks of books is a perpetual human traffic jam. If you suffer from claustrophobia, just take a picture from outside and move on.

We’ve seen plenty of bookshops in Paris, but it was a pleasure to find one full of ones we could read. I picked up a copy of Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (I read most of it in a day–you can see my review on Goodreads) and had a nice chat with the American from California who sold it to me. He’s also a writer who came to Paris–and decided to stay. Hmm…

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The cat that lives in the shop

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Looking across the Seine

Perhaps even better than visiting Shakespeare & Co. was getting to the American Library near the Eiffel Tower and getting a membership. Like Shakespeare & Co., they’ve packed as many books as possible in their rows and rows of shelves. We promptly checked out eleven books.

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Crossing the bridge to get to the library

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The stacks and our stack

We were at the library on Saturday, a big day for weddings; crossing the bridge back to our side of the river we passed two different couples getting photographed as well as a modelling shoot (I didn’t get a picture of that).

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