Behind an unassuming door on an equally unassuming street in the medieval walled city of Provins, a steep stone staircase draws you into a hidden wonderland: a 13th-century vaulted void, brimming with books on all things medieval.
Crammed into this beautiful crypt-like cavern of curiosity are reprints of original medieval texts, medieval maps, modern fiction set in the medieval era, medieval music, medieval poetry, DVDs of medieval drama and documentary, and of course, children’s toys and costumes inspired by the era. The sublime shop currently boasts 5,000 different literary works.
Meaning “The King Read” in French, the name of this wonderfully atmospheric bookshop, Le Roy Lire is a play on the words of the French title of Shakespeare’s King Lear (Le Roy Lear).
Provins, a UNESCO town listed for its superb medieval architecture, is a fitting location for a unique book store dedicated to European history and culture between the Romans and the Renaissance.
Know Before You Go
Pay attention as you walk along Rue de Jouy. Despite its cavernous dimensions, the shop is incredibly well hidden behind a simple door and easy to miss! Le Roy Lire opens from 2 to 7 p.m. between Tuesday and Friday, also opening briefly before lunch on weekend mornings. The shop is closed on Mondays. The beautiful town of Provins is easily reachable on a day trip from Paris, being around an hour and a half by car, or by train from the Gare de L'Est.