When I think of Notre Dame, I some how end up thinking of the movie Amelie where li’l Amelie’s mother dies as some woman falls on her as she leaps off from the Cathedral’s tower. Unlike imposing cathedral of Cologne or grand and gorgeous St Mark’s of Venice, Notre Dame appeared more friendly. And friendly it was, cause I felt warm enough to light a candle there. Perhaps it was making up for not so warm people there. I don’t blame them, they must be tired of tourist out numbering them day in and out.
Coming back to Notre Dame, wikipedia tells me that it means ‘Our Lady’ in French. I was particularly mesmerized by stained glasses giving it a unique character. Since almost a thousand years, it has been a part of French history in various forms as it had to go through many restorations over time. There are many tidbits from past hovering around this beauty, but what interested me the most was Victor Hugo’s novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ that was written at a time when destruction loomed on the cathedral again and Hugo wanted to raise awareness in people about heritage associated with Notre Dame.
After a walk in the public garden at the back of the cathedral and a visit to the museum in the crypt, all you would want to do is sit in front appreciating the Gothic architecture longing of delicious Crepes available in the next building. But before you do that, there is something else nearby at a few minute’s walk that anyone with flair for reading can not ignore. And it is a bookshop known as Shakespeare and Company.
Here is one bookshop by the river Seine which is much more than a store selling books by categories. It offers lodging for literati and functions as a book lending library too. It has been a hangout place for the likes of Earnest Hemingway, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and many others. After coming back from Paris, I stumbled upon this interesting article here about Hemingway’s attachment to this book store. Shakespeare and Company has this air of something surreal offering food for mind. It is busy arranging Poetry readings, writer’s meetings and formal and informal literary workshops. It is the very same bookshop where Ethan Hawke, as Jesse in the movie Before Sunset is present for his book reading. I’m more than eager to read Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast’ to read and think of Shakespeare and Company which has inspired many a writers. And at least I know where I would spending more time when I visit Paris again.