Le Merle Moqueur bookstore is what a bookstore was always meant to be. Far removed from those multistory monstrosities that are as dehumanizing as they are commercial, Le Merle Moqueur sits quietly on community’s pavement.

If you know of Paris’ literature scene at all, then you will know that it is accompanied by a snobbish elitism that crowds its every establishment. Walk into any of its bookstores, and chances are that you will feel instantly transported into the lofty halls of France’s literature history – and they are unforgiving of stranges.

Le Merle Moqueur however does not have any of that air of exclusivity, as it welcomes all manner of customers and browsers. At weekends its aisles fill with playful children whose love for literature is nurtured from an early age. And during the week, the more seasoned and pensive customers wander its shelves.

It is a community bookstore, whose owner and employees have lived their whole lives in the local community. Their service friendly and their knowledge is extensive, and one always leaves the story with the felling of having spent time with family. Each month, it hosts a book launch, or otherwise said, an opportunity for old friends to meet up, and new friends to be introduced.

Naniso Tswai
I have travelled afar and aplenty but never before have I met a city such as Paris. In fact, “that Paris exists and anyone could choose to live anywhere else in the world will always be a mystery to me” (Woody Allen: Midnight in Paris). This powerful quote both explains and encapsulates my relationship with Paris. Young, energetic and full of life, almost instantly her cuteness consumes you, coursing through your veins until all you desire is to never leave her embrace. But it is not all catwalk perfections, as despite her elegant demeanour, living here is an altogether different and gritty affair. For the tourist Paris dons her most beautiful frock and flirts an irresistible charm, but were you intent on becoming a permanent fixture, prepare yourself for her invariably coarse moods. She is obstinately and often infuriatingly French. She wears her French mantra, indeed breaths it as if though to do anything else would be an affront to her flag. Even when I ventured into her sprawling contours expecting her personality to become diluted, however I was both relieved and perplexed by the resoluteness of character. She is France at its most unyielding, arrogant and concentrated self, but damn, do I love to love her. I invite you to follow my own discoveries of Paris’s hidden corners and whispered beauties.