Yesterday was a great day exploring the city getting b-roll for our documentary. We made our way from the Latin Quarter to the Eiffel Tower to get a time-lapse shot as the sun was setting, and along the way we stopped at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore at 37 rue de la Bucherie. First opened by Sylvia Beach in 1919, it was a popular hangout for writers like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Pound in the 20s. It’s an English bookstore, and they even accept submissions from young writers today. One of the only things on my souvenir list is to purchase a book from there and have it stamped. I collect books, I love to read. I figured I might as well stay on my Hemingway kick while I’m here, so I looked for one of his books first…but everything I saw, I already own. I usually don’t buy the books in the window, just because I’d rather look around first and see if I can find something that speaks to me. But the first book I saw was one by writer Naomi Wood called Mrs. Hemingway. I skipped it, thinking I could find something else…but that one intrigued me. When I didn’t find anything else in the small, crowded shop, I made my way back to the entrance to head out and away. But Mrs. Hemingway caught my eye again, and when I picked it up to read the first page I was already hooked.
Sylvia Beach’s original location for the bookshop isn’t around anymore, but this one was opened in 1951 by George Whitman. This location was similar to the original however, in that it was a hangout for the bohemian writers of the time such as Ginsberg and Burroughs.
The bookshop is tiny and small, and they don’t allow you to take photos inside. It’s crowded and smells like wood and books…perhaps one of the best smells in the world. I hate reading on Kindles or nooks…there’s nothing that can replace the touch, feel, and smell of a real book. I made my way to the check out counter and a lovely English girl was working it, and she asked me if I wanted my book stamped. Of course I did! She and I talked about Hemingway for maybe five minutes, and she told me I picked an excellent book and that when I finished I should read one called Hemingway’s Boat. My experience at Shakespeare and Company was quaint and the customer service was perfect. She placed my book in a bag with a quote by Oscar Wilde. “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”
After the bookstore, we walked three miles to the Eiffel Tower where we set up the camera on our tripod to capture a time-lapse of the sun setting behind the big iron monument. I took off my shoes and let my feet rest in the grass below the tower. The sun was shining and bright, the weather much warmer than it has been since our arrival. I fell asleep under the Parisian sun and when I woke up I read a few chapers of Mrs. Hemingway, getting a glimpse into what life was like for Hadley Hemingway during their days in Paris. It was the perfect afternoon. Au revior until next time!