Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore Sheltered Customers From Paris Terror Attacks

Posted on November 16, 2015

Ernest Hemingway's favorite bookstore in Paris, Shakespeare & Company, became a refuge for for people hiding from terrorists during the attack on Friday night. Canadian author and writer in residence Harriet Alida Lye lives above the Shakespeare & Co. book shop while she works on her second novel.

She wrote an interesting article for the National Post about how the store offered to allow its customers to spend the night instead of having to face the streets of Paris after the attacks.

The store has always had writers staying there: from James Joyce to Hemingway to authors who never made the bestseller list. They are called Tumbleweeds. On Friday night Harriet made her way back to the store and was surprised to find around 20 customers there long after closing time. She wrote, "I stood at the window with a small group looking out at Notre Dame, talking and not talking. We said we felt angry. We said we felt afraid. We said we didn’t know what to feel. We said nothing at all."

She said that sirens went all night and groups of police roamed the streets keeping people safe: "There were sirens going constantly; a few stragglers trying, and failing, to hail cabs; plainclothes riot police making the rounds in packs of 30, wearing jeans and helmets and bulletproof vests and carrying guns as long as my arm.... Most of us didn’t turn in until some time after 5 a.m."

The store closed the day after the attacks, but announced that it is open once again. You can read Harriet's account of what it's like to live and write at the legendary bookstore in a fascinating piece she wrote for Vice.

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