5 “Très Bon” Independent French Bookstores You Can Only Find in the U.S.
For French students and francophiles alike, Language Magazine’s list of great French bookstores in the U.S. is sure to get readers excited to explore some new cities in search of that perfect bookstore. While, unfortunately, many bookstores have closed their doors, instead of being sad readers can say c’est la vie and celebrate these independent businesses are still living in thriving across the U.S.
Albertine Interior. Photo courtesy of Yelp.
A project of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Albertine is the only bookstore in New York to carry solely French and English titles. This dreamy bookstore is located in the official landmark Payne Whitney mansion in Manhattan on fifth avenue, and features a stellar hand-painted ceiling, busts of Voltaire and other French and French-American figures, and a replica of Michelangelo’s Young Archer. The scenery is just the beginning, though. The bookstore holds a diverse selection of titles: from literature to sci-fi, to self-help, cooking, social science, and everything in-between. The store holds events which can be viewed here.
Schoenhof’s Exterior. Photo courtesy of Shoenhof’s.
Schoenhof’s Foreign Books, Cambridge, MA
This bookstore is not only quite old (founded it 1856) it also boasts the largest selection of foreign books in North America. While Schoenhof’s carries a plethora of language books—be it Latin, Japanese, African languages, Asian language, among many others—One of the languages most extensively covered is French. The website lists over seven thousand French titles, and has quite the range from literary classics like The Little Price, to translations of an obscure Biography of Brigitte Bardot. This quaint Harvard Square bookstore is sure to please any inner francophile.
Tempo Bookstore. Photo courtesy of Yelp.
This unassuming bookstore in the heart of Tenleytown could appear like a mini-mart or magazine stand. Inside, though, one can find resources for many languages—French being one of them. Packed inside the cozy store are French-language dictionaries, novels, language learning tools, children’s books, and more. Not quite your quaint old Parisian bookstore, Tempo is still a gem for language books, and the cashiers will even order books that aren’t currently in stock in the shop for customers.
European Books and Media Interior. Photo courtesy EB&M.
This quaint Oakland bookstore is an independent book company (librairie francaise) carrying French literature, textbooks, comic books, and more. European Books and Media (formerly European Book Company) imports directly from France and supplies schools, school districts, libraries and individuals. This Bay Area staple is a resource for French speakers wanting to find new novels to sink into, and students seeking textbooks alike.
Bonjour Mama exterior. Photo Courtesy Bonjour Mama.
The small town of Kensington may seem like an unlikely place for an independent French bookstore, but given that many of its residents commute to Washington, DC and return to the suburban town, Bonjour Mama has plenty of customers for its exclusively French fare. This charming bookstore, located in the back of Kensington Row Bookshop, packs a punch in a small space with loads of French titles. The bookstore’s highlight is the vast collection of French children’s books. Bonjour Mama has translated popular titles like The Hobbit along with nature guides, and language resource books. Not to worry if children’s books aren’t of particular interest; this retailer has literary and genre fiction for the adult reader too.