Although many who learn French in the United States believe the term for a both a library and a bookstore is “bibliotheque”, the French will make sure you know that the librairies are where their reading communities economically prosper.
Many European countries and cities take pride in their bookstores, Lyon being no exception. With a diverse number of librairies throughout the city, Lyon is the proud mother of a thriving literary community.
Whether you are simply here for a visit or are in Lyon for an extended stay, you will have no issue finding a librairie that makes you feel like a kid in a candy store.
Lyon’s “Everything” Bookstores
Similar to corporate bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble in the United States, that carry every popular book you could imagine, Lyon’s Fnac and Decitre provide the Lyonnais with almost every book they could ever need.
These stores sell books of every genre, including academic textbooks which provides a nice convenience to students studying in the city. Their popularity is also greatly due to them not being an independent enterprise, making their prices much lower in comparison to other local stores you may visit.
Additionally, while most of their products are printed in French, they do carry varying English titles. These two stores have many different locations throughout the city; no matter where you are, you can find a Fnac or a Decitre with little effort.
They are located at Place Bellecour, Centre Commercial Confluence, and the Westfield Part Dieu Mall.
All of the stores are open Monday-Saturday from either 9:30 AM or 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, 7:30 PM, or 8:00 PM, depending on the location.
The heart of the Presqu’île is the hub for many tourist spots, yet La Procure is a small librairie right on Place Bellecour in which both locals and tourists spend time wandering the shelves.
This librairie is a quiet, quaint getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city center.
Although all of their texts are printed in French, La Procure also sells artistic, locally made cards and postcards, and visitors can find miniature library makeups placed on shelves throughout the store that are simply remarkable.
This little shop is open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
A librairie just as quaint, yet a little more rustic, in the middle of the city is Le Bal des Ardents. This store has an iconic book arch over its front door, you absolutely can’t miss it!
A little off the beaten path, this librairie is located near the Cordeliers metro stop and offers an intimate book-shopping experience.
With an emphasis on art and poetry sections, this store sells books from all genres.
As a local seller, all of their texts are in French. Yet, even if you don’t speak French this store is a wonderful experience for any reader who loves wandering a bookshop that feels like home.
Le Bal des Ardents is open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
For a taste of something a little different, stop by Librairie à Soi(e). Located just off the Hôtel de Ville metro stop, this shop is a woman-owned and operated business that sells feminist and queer literature.
Some of their genres include LGBTQIA+, the women’s rights movement, feminist biographies and autobiographies, women’s health, and more. An interesting aspect of this store is its children’s section, which is full of titles about gender discovery at young ages.
Best of all, this bookshop has an entire English section! They also sell feminist paraphernalia and have employee recommendations set up at the entrance of the store, an aspect that many readers will appreciate.
Librairie à Soi(e) is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, yet the store is sometimes closed during mid-day to early afternoon for lunch.
A Hidden Gem of Vieux Lyon
Perhaps you are spending some of your time in the beautiful historic district of Vieux Lyon. In that case, pay a visit to Librairie Diogène.
Although this shop is situated on one of the busiest streets in the quarter, Rue Saint-Jean, many people often pass it by. Brimming with rare finds and old volumes of classic French texts, this librairie is a quiet, homely place to spend some time.
And don’t fret, they sell modern texts as well!
Librairie Diogène is open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM and Sunday from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
A Local Favorite in Croix Rousse
If you happen to find yourself in the old silk working district of la Croix Rousse, pop into Le Livre en Pente. This is a small shop absolutely full to the brim with books.
They have so many that on most days, when the weather allows, they will set up tables of books outside the front door to lure you in. The inside of the shop is covered wall to wall and almost ceiling to ceiling with books.
As a small local haunt, Le Livre en Pente is not normally crowded. Most of the titles they sell are French, but you can find a few English texts floating about throughout the shop.
Le Livre en Pente is open Monday-Friday from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM and Saturday-Sunday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
No matter which area of Lyon you might be exploring, you can always find a librairie.
Sometimes it is nice to simply go inside one of these stores and wander without aim, solely for the atmosphere.
In any case, Lyon is surely a city that will not fall short on the list of your bookish needs.