The quaint, old bookstore nestled alongside a riverbank, adjacent to a historical monument, in a city that exudes love, art, lights, and fashion, is enough to entice anyone to pay a visit to "Shakespeare and Company." However, the story doesn't merely conclude there. It's a journey that transports you to a realm of books and timelessness. I could endlessly elaborate on the reasons and ways this is so.

An enthusiastic reader often regards reading as an expedition into a realm of limitless imagination. They approach a book with a blank canvas, ready to paint their own interpretation of the world the author has woven. Such a reader also holds a deep fondness for spaces that invigorate and brim with countless tales. Being someone who is captivated by storytelling and hungers for narratives from all corners, a pilgrimage to this English bookstore in Paris was an essential agenda during my trip to the city.

"Shakespeare and Company" is the embodiment of every bibliophile's fantasy. Much like unraveling the pages of a work of fiction, a visit to this store unveils numerous narratives in every nook and cranny. Situated along the Seine's left bank, a stone's throw from the Notre Dame Cathedral, this establishment is one of Paris's oldest English bookstores. Legend has it that it provided refuge to several literary titans of bygone eras. Originally founded by George Whitman in 1951 under the name "Le Mistral," the building's architecture initially faced criticism. However, Whitman repurposed the store as a haven for aspiring writers and artists, offering them shelter during their trying times in Paris. In exchange for assistance around the bookstore, these individuals found a place to stay. In 1964, Whitman bestowed the name "Shakespeare and Company" upon the bookstore, borrowing it from Sylvia Beach's establishment of the same name, which was established in 1919 and shuttered in 1941. Since then, it has persisted as a haven for secondhand books, an assortment of antique volumes, and a public library that patrons are free to peruse.

On the day I decided to visit "Shakespeare and Company," heavy rain was falling. I assumed there would be fewer crowds everywhere. Yet, as Paris is renowned for, no inclement weather can hinder the city's celebration of art, literature, and architecture. Turning into the lane adjacent to Notre Dame, the street leading to the bookstore already displayed a queue of people waiting to enter. I then learned the rule that allowed only twenty people inside the store at any given time. However, there was no time limit for how long one could stay within. As patrons exited, others entered. Everyone waited patiently, and I had my 5-year-old daughter with me, eager to witness one of the world's oldest stores. The café next to the store provided a convenient spot for those seeking relaxation while waiting, and I must note that it offered some of the finest coffee in Paris. Sipping hot, steaming coffee on a rainy day amidst the presence of books spanning three generations was sheer bliss for an enthusiast's soul.

Stepping into the store, I felt as though I had entered the libraries of our great-grandparents, with books piled up to the ceiling. The ground floor housed new releases, neatly organized by various genres as in a typical bookstore. However, there were quite a few unique selections within the poetry and literature sections. Each shelf featured in-store recommendations for content and aesthetic front covers. Moving to the first floor, I encountered an antique collection and cozy reading corners. One could recline on a windowsill and delve into grand, ancient tales. Numerous beds were nestled between bookshelves, said to have accommodated 30,000 individuals who assisted around the store. Countless stories adorned the walls in the form of pictures, and hours could be spent reading and uncovering them all. I noticed many regular visitors engaging in casual and friendly conversations with the storekeepers. I couldn't resist making a purchase, and I'm pleased I did, for it came with a timeless stamp and a cherished bookmark.

Visitors should be aware that photography is not permitted inside the store. They encourage you to stow away your phones and explore. While it might seem like a missed opportunity for your social media feed, some stories are best experienced through your own eyes rather than the lens of a camera. Though I lack physical photographs of the space I discovered, I experienced a sense of timelessness. That mental image can convey a story that exceeds a thousand words. "Shakespeare and Company" is a haven not only for those who adore immersing themselves in Paris and books but also for a timeless romance that can be kindled with literature, coffee, a touch of Parisian ambiance, and endless tales from a bygone era.