Provence is a great place to come for books. It’s a region that’s attracted some of the greatest writers from F.Scott Fitzgerald to Ernest Hemingway. It’s also been the setting for some great novels, like The Count of Monte Cristo and Tender is the Night. There are some great stores in Provence to find books and while away the hours with a coffee. Here’s our list of the top 10 independent bookstores in the region.
You can find the Maupetit bookshop on La Canebière, one of the main boulevards in Marseille. They have a really good selection of books (including English language) and hold a lot of reading events. This is at the more professional end of book shops (rather than a place where you can rummage through piles of dusty books) and a great place to find a specific book that you’re trying to track down.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm. Closed Sundays.
Book in Bar in Aix is everything you need from a little independent English book store – it has fresh muffins, great coffee and the latest magazines in English. It has everything you’d expect an English book store to carry but they also have a good selection of books that you might not find in bookstores in England, for example. They’ll happily order anything for you (it takes a couple of days). It’s a great place to spend a couple of hours listening to the multitude of English lessons and conversations taking place around you.
This little independent bookstore is named after the March Hare (which is “un lièvre de mars“) from Lewis Caroll’s book, Alice in Wonderland. It’s a shop that specialises in urban books and graphic design, so a great place to find books on architecture or other aspects of city art. In tandem, it also has a kids section and literature from the 11th and 12th centuries. Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm. Monday, 2pm to 7pm. Closed Sundays.
Looks like it's closedHours or services may be impacted due to Covid-19
La Friche is an edgy urban space in the centre of Marseille that runs down the side of the train station (St Charles). It used to be an old tobacco factory and is now home to lots of new startups, a rooftop bar, a fantastic restaurant and this wonderful arty bookstore. It’s one of the best places to pick up a present for someone who loves art and they also have some wonderful kids colouring and activity books. The coffee isn’t bad either.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 7pm. Monday, 10am to 6pm.
If you’re looking for a store in Provence that knows its comics and takes them very seriously, you should head to Les Fictionautes in Nice. It has a big following by people who love their “bande dessinée” (comic strips). Check out their Facebook page to see what they have in stock. Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm
This is an English and Italian bookstore in Marseille that is run by Pierre and Anne-Sophie Maurel. Thirty years ago, they set up their business to be a melting pot for every nationality. It’s a good meeting place for someone speaking any language as they now offer books in Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 9.30am to 6.30pm. Wednesday, 9.30am to 1pm. Friday and Saturday, 9.30am to 12.30pm. Closed Sundays.
This bookshop in Marseille is in an old “boulangerie” (bakery). It likes to think of itself as a place where everyone is welcome rather than a stuffy and pretentious house of learning. Kids can come and sit and read the French books and they hold events. “Attraper les mots” in French, means to catch the words.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm. Closed Sundays and Mondays.