You Want to Go to This French Bookstore
Set in the grand, Payne-Whitney mansion on the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 79th Street, Albertine is a book-lover’s dream, especially if you fancy yourself a Francophile. A charming bookshop that’s housed within the Cultural Studies of the French Embassy, the cozy spot features two floors of tomes in both English and French. From new releases from prominent French authors and writers from 30 French-speaking countries to rare manuscripts from Victor Hugo, you can easily wander this shop for hours. In fact, the shop raves it has more than 14,000 books!
The sweet staff don’t mind if you plunk a seat on one of the couches or window seat perches with any number of their novels or journals. In fact, on any given day, you’re bound to find a few students from French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF) working on their grammar. Of particular note is the vast collection of children’s books, which I found to be utterly delightful. This is partially due to my elementary knowledge of French and partially due to my fascination with French food education. Can we please discuss this adorable cookbook for feeding your youngsters?
The celestial-inspired ceiling is another draw. When you tire of looking at books, or, more honestly, if you must force yourself to look away, just gaze up at the elaborate hand-painted ceiling of the second floor. It features a mural of constellations, stars, and planets, modeled after a ceiling at the Villa Stuck in Munich, Germany.
In addition to selling books, the shop also hosts readings, discussions, and literary salons for its members, FIAF students, and the general public. You can find the full schedule here, but beware that they save the best events for their members. Consider joining here. (#NotSponsored #JustAFan)
It’ll be tough to leave this spot without a tome (or three) so be sure to set a limit for yourself before stepping through the door. Or don’t. Who am I to judge?