On the longest street in Paris, at the edge of the Luxembourg Gardens, sits a unique little bookshop that’s often overlooked. While the famous Shakespeare & Co is chock-full with tourists everyday, outside Le Pont Traversé at 62 Rue de Vaugirard, the lone passerby is occasionally browsing the bookstand at leisure. So I thought I’d give this undiscovered Parisian literary nest a big flashing neon arrow on the internet to help send a few bookshop lovers their way.
We need to take a closer look to uncover the neat little secret about this charming bookshop. Above the windows, tucked away in the nooks of the royal blue facade, cast your eyes on the golden bulls heads, indicating that this corner shop hasn’t always been selling books.
Once a grande boucherie (a very posh butcher) of the Belle Epoque, after its closure, an experimental poet and writer, Marcel Béalu came along and founded Le Pont Traversé, named after a well-loved French book by Jean Paulhan. Marcel kept the butchers facade in tact and crammed it full of his rare books.
Inside, you can even find the old butchers meat hooks, see them on the ceiling there?
The shop’s current owner is Madame Josée Comte-Béalu, who acts as a protector of out of print and first edition books on 20th century poetry, literature and art. She opens the shop everyday after lunch until midnight, catering to nocturnal literary hunters that might stroll by.
When I entered and asked if I could take photos of the interior, Madame Josée politely declined, remarking that she never knows where the images are going to end up. So I put on my sweetest blogger’s face and told her all about you guys and how much you would appreciate the snaps. She smiled and walked over to a small sign saying “no photography” and took it back to her desk. “Be my guest”, she said gesturing to discover her butcher’s bookshop.
Always look up, otherwise you’ll miss the little details like these old tiles left behind by the butcher.
Oh, to live in the little apartment of the butcher’s bookshop at the top of this staircase …
What could be a better souvenir from Paris than a rare book of French poetry for the mantlepiece? Or perhaps a little tote bag to remind you of the quaint little butcher’s bookshop off the beaten path …
Le Pont Traversé is at 62 rue de Vaugirard near the Luxembourg Gardens of Saint Germain. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 1pm to midnight except on Sundays when it’s open until 10pm.