Present: Place and People

Never have I ever been in Paris, but I grew up hearing a lot about it.  My mother, a french teacher for middle school students in New Jersey, lived in France for a period of time while she was in her twenties.  I recently talked to her about the tasks presented in class. I told her about how the bookstore I was assigned, Shakespeare and Company, is in Paris.   I unsuccessfully tried to pronounce the name of where it was located “37 rue de la Bûcherie, in the 5th arrondissement.” to her, hoping she would have some sort of insight.   “Oh the Latin quarter! it’s a very creative area” replied my Mom, “it’s right by Notre Dam.”  Based on my research she isn’t the only one who believes that “creative” is a good adjective to describe the area.

Shakespeare and Company’s own website has this description of their location:

 

A street view of Shakespeare and Company in Paris 


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Shakespeare and Company’s website gives a bit of history on their store.  They explain that what once was just a bookstore is now an institution.  This reminded me of Miller’s ideas of bookstores becoming entertainment centers in The Reluctant Capitalist.  Shakespeare and Company goes right along with what she talks about as it promotes events such as; workshops, festivals, and  book signings and readings by authors.  These events are more than likely targeted to those in the neighborhood surounding the store.  According to the travel website, AParisGuide.com, the Latin Quarter of Paris is known to host mostly students and tourists.  There is a lively atmosphere with plenty of restaurants, boutique-like shops, and many hotels.  (once again food is very prevalent around the book shop.)

Travel down the street to see restaurants and cafe’s along the road. 


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I explored around Shakespeare and Company on Google Maps, and to the left of the bookstore are five restaurants.  Five, in a row.  These seem to mostly be cafe’s- a perfect fit for being next to a bookshop, especially in a student filled population.  The area is heavily populated with students due to the schools in and around the Latin Quarter.  These institutions are:  École Normale Supérieure, the École des Mines de Paris (a ParisTech institute), Panthéon-Assas University, the Schola Cantorum, and the Jussieu university campus.  In Cresswell’s “A Global Sense of Place” he talks about David Harvey’s idea of place, “a symbolic meaning well beyond that of location” (Cresswell, 56.) Amongst the restaurants and schools, Shakespeare and Company stands out and has become a symbol of community and uniqueness in the area. Despite being in that precise location, it would probably have this same value regardless of where it is placed.

The red pins on this map represent the schools in the Latin Quarter


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Apart from learning institutions, Shakespeare and Company is across the street from Notre Dam.  This is sure to bring in many tourists from all over the globe.

Here is a map that is given from the Shakespeare and Company website.  Based on what they recorded on this map you can tell what other places the bookshop felt were important.

As of 2009, the 5th arrondissement of Paris had approximately 61,531 inhabitants.  According to a blogger who moved to Paris 40 years ago, the area always had a bohemian feel.  She said however, many of the bookshops have been replaced with “junk-clothes” shops.  Despite this replacement the area is still very popular amongst professors and prestigious students.  The location has always been considered one of intellect.  The area is expensive to live in, which may suggest that people of higher-class reside there most often.  Although the Latin Quarter has this stereotype, because of its street fairs, gardens, churches, schools, restaurants and stores it is a popular area for all Paris residents, tourists,  and students.

The Latin Quarter of Paris 

 

Sources:

Barrett, Matt. “A Guide to the Latin Quarter” A Paris Guide, Matt Barrett’s travel guide.
http://www.aparisguide.com/latin-quarter/

Cresswell, Tim. Place: A Short Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2004.

Google Maps:  37 rue de la Bûcherie, in the 5th arrondissement

Miller, Laura J. Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Shakespeare and Company Website
http://www.shakespeareandcompany.com/index.php

Vallois, Thirza.  “Which Arrondissement is Yours?”  Adrian Leeds Blog
http://www.adrianleeds.com/articles/which-arrondissement-is-yours