Have you ever wanted to design your private library with a well-known curator? If you are ensconced in the exquisite Pompadour Suite at Le Meurice, do crawl out of those exquisite expensive linens and mosey to Librairie Galignani, an astonishing bookstore over two centuries old, opened in 1520, it is merely yards away. Or even better, let us schedule a private consultation with Executive Director, Danielle Cillien Sabatier, and let the experts assist you in curating a personal library on your beloved pursuits. Architecture, gardens, wine, fashion; there are always impossible to find books on every avocation. Is your best friend a Chanel aficionado, you will discover slews of books on Coco for a beloved birthday gift. Something for everyone at Librairie Galignani, the casual reader or assistance with a sophisticated library collection.
With three departments, English, French and Fine Arts, Librairie Galignani offers a range of rare diversity and guarantees quality service, excellence and know-how provided by expert and bilingual booksellers. The bookstore offer is supplemented by a website allowing you to reserve or buy online and to ship or have your purchases delivered. In addition, many events (signings, conferences, meetings, exhibitions, round tables, debates or private parties) are regularly organized in the bookshop, do check the schedule before your next visit to The City of Light.
The English department offers all the English and American classics. The latest publications in literature, biographies and essays rub shoulders with political and financial news. In addition to a large selection of history books, there is a strong specialization in Anglo-Saxon university publications,
The Fine Arts department, rich in all the latest news and a large collection of French books, also favors works (exhibition catalogs, various monographs) from abroad, mainly from the United States, England and Italy, as well as a small number of rare and out of print books on fashion, jewelry and the decorative arts.
Faced with the abundance of publications, the French-language books section offers a selection likely to satisfy the most diverse curiosities in literature, history, essays, current affairs and youth. You can also discover or rediscover the great names of literature in the La Pléiade collection.
History: The Galignanis were among the first to use the recently invented printing press in order to distribute their books to a larger audience. Beginning in 1520, Simone Galignani published in Venice a Latin grammar (the oldest “Galignani” known).
However, their greatest success was the Geografia by PTOLEMAUS published in 1597, an incredible bestseller in both the 16th and 17th centuries. Galignani eventually reissued multiple editions.
At the end of the 17th century, Giovanni Antonio Galignani, born near Brescia, left an economically declining Venice for London, and shortly after, Paris, where he opened in 1801, on rue Vivienne, not only a bookshop, but also a reading room specialized in the English language, while continuing his publishing business. In addition, there was the creation of Galignani’s Messenger, a daily newspaper and reference point for the English-speaking community on the Continent. Some of the greatest English authors of the time contributed to the newspaper, and their books were also published by Galignani (Byron, Wordsworth, Thackeray, Scott …). Galignani then settled in 1856 at rue de Rivoli, which remains the current address.
Upon his death in 1882, William Galignani left the company to his nephew, Charles Jeancourt-Galignani, whose direct descendants still own it today. The newspaper and the publishing house were discontinued at the beginning of the 20th century, but the bookshop continued to thrive. Not allowed to stock English editions during the German occupation, André Jeancourt-Galignani opened a section devoted to art books. Since the post-war period, the Fine Arts Department has been an undeniable success.
Concerning libraries, the refined staff members work with all the museums for their curator’s libraries, the major luxury hotels like Ritz, Crillon, Le Meurice, Plaza Athénée, George, Prince de Galles, Pavillon de la Reine and lately Cheval Blanc and Bulgari. They have created libraries for Cartier, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and other luxury brands. Librairie Galigani also collaborates with famous decorators and have selected book assortments for private clients either through their decorators or directly.
Traveling alone is a joyful experience, I don’t get lonely, and I am rarely frightened. My recent Nineteen Day Camel Caravan through the Kingdom of Morocco reminded me of one slightly chilling moment in Wadi Rum, Jordan. The driver of the 4×4 desert vehicle had a pendant dangling from his rear-view mirror, the more I stared at it, the more alarmed I became. I realized it was a photo of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator who was not fond of Americans, to say the least. My guide realized I recognized the mini shrine and quietly mentioned: he gave us free oil for many years, the driver worships him. On a visit to Oman, seeing camouflage nets covering tanks near a five-star resort, quick geography bolt – oh, the Strait of Hormuz is just a mountain passage away…trivial flashes reminding me of what a tiny world we live in.
I arrived in Morocco for a Nineteen Day Camel Caravan, to explore major cities, small rural villages, and the Sahara Desert with our expert local team, it was while driving through massive linear Sahara sand dunes that the swaying pendant memory flooded my consciousness. However, this time I was with my trusted driver Mustapha. Driver is really an unsuitable description in many contexts; Mustapha was the manager of my ever-changing schedule, bodyguard, cultural ambassador, language tutor, and fanatical seeker of Champagne in a dry Muslim country, he wore at least twenty hats while shepherding me safely across the country.
You may recall my Tribute to Samer, my dedicated driver in Jordan. This is my homage to Mustapha. When our clients set out in cities or untamed countryside, our hand selected teams are their safety net. My complicated roaming about for nineteen days was extremely well planned, and we never experienced a glitch, due to Mustapha’s dedication and his constant connection to our trusted team based in Marrakech. I mentioned that in London, our dear Neville rarely let me out of his sight, even with GPS, I have no sense of direction. If I wandered a bit, Mustapha was like the FBI, I would peer back from an ATM or a souk path and I was never out of his sightline. Morocco has strict hotel procedures, my arrival was always announced in advance. Doormen, luggage carts, all my needs had been shared and VIP Five-Star greetings prevailed. Whisked to suite, Champers on ice!
Several of our clients have already savored Morocco with the fine detailed itineraries organized by our local team and traveled with the ever resourceful and fun Mustapha! Due to the pandemic, I hadn’t traveled for over two years, and this was a very ambitious Journey – begin big, why not?! Most may know, I am rather obsessive about the arrival and solemnly believe the mantra that a driver or guide can make or break a trip. Imagine traveling nineteen days in a car with an incompatible traveling companion? Mustapha and I had many significant passages, a 9-hour drive day, several 5-hour drive days and if we couldn’t bear spending hours and hours together, we would be in serious trouble! In this case, I would be judging everything from a client’s point of view, a fussy Virgo traveler, business owner, and someone who hadn’t traveled in over two years. Poor Mustapha had his work cut out for him!
A seventeen-hour slog to Casablanca through Charles De Gaulle, and due to a tennis injury, I had reserved a wheelchair for my airport transfers – it turned out to be essential in Paris, such a massive confusing airport. My Casablanca VIP arrival team insisted I be delivered to the car in the wheelchair; I’m sure when Mustapha saw a wheelchair bound traveler, he assumed he would also add Nurse duties to his list of titles. Massive bags loaded, a suitcase filled with fancy winter clothes for Madrid and Paris as well as Moroccan summer clothes; I mentioned I wanted to ride in the front seat of the car for better photographs. Of course, I am here to make your trip perfect. As I re-read my initial post from the Four Seasons in Casablanca, I mentioned my charming driver Mustapha and I would depart for an epic adventure the next morning; within an hour of my arrival, he had already achieved positive reviews!
We had guides arranged in every city, dining reservations, private visits to charming gardens. Mustapha could double as a guide, he’s well-travelled, speaks five languages, and has spent hours with our clients and their guides. He has an amazing memory – he became my ‘Travel Whisperer’ to our team and to hotel staff. Many of the hotels had wine lists, some even had cocktails, a delicious reward after a nine-hour drive day. One evening at the lovely Relais & Chateaux property, Villa Des Orangers, I was sitting in an intimate salon with roaring fire, oud musician in the garden, my private story tellers arrived, followed by a waiter with the perfect Rye Manhattan on a silver tray! I almost burst into tears, it was day fourteen, and I was a bit weary, it was exactly what I desired, he advised staff of my favorite cocktail. Our clients expect these little miracles, I was wowed by the gesture and his memory!
My Nineteen Day Camel Caravan was the perfect blend of history, culture, touring in major cities and through date studded deserts. If you think of the assets we can attribute to travel, trust and resilience come to mind. Traveling alone, my drivers and guides become my local ambassadors and ultimately trustworthy friends. I remain friends with my glorious guide in Bhutan, our renowned guide in Rwanda. These accidental characters become an intrinsic piece of our travel lives. What a gift to treasure, a Journey for the wonders, the layers of personal experiences and ultimately a friend who added wisdom and depth to my travel.
A few specific experiences. My goals were established for the Journey – this is my work, with pleasure of course, but I had specific photo locations I wanted to visit, Mustapha knew the lists – if a guide got me off track, he was the policeman. At some point we established several code phrases. If I said Mustapha: I am craving Scrambled Eggs, he knew guide was off track – doing a great job, but not on my track, he either dismissed the guide or nudged the guide back to my plan. It was a gentle method of keeping me happy and a kind way of dismissing a guide if I was exhausted! We also had a ‘ratings system’ for fabulous sight-seeing a Ten Camel Day was the initial high bar. Eventually, we bumped to a Twenty Camel Day and a Hundred Camel Day.
I love meeting locals, when we discussed this, I told Mustapha do you think a family in Madrid or Paris will invite me in for tea? Never! Moroccans are warm, gentle, and generous people, if you say yes to tea, and you should never say no, be prepared for an elaborate tea ceremony with vessels and platters of homemade breads, nuts, and dates! He mentioned his family lived near Marrakech on a farm, would I want to stop? Emphatic yes! There is an in depth post on my visitbut his dear mum and darling auntie warmly welcomed me – without a common language. Auntie had never seen a tourist except on TV and within five minutes she laid claim to me – she was keeping me, even though Mustapha told her I needed coffee served in bed every morning, and I didn’t clean or cook, she was unwavering, The Tourist was hers. We giggled for over an hour with no common language, we communicated our affection for each other. It was a Twenty Camel Day, with deep levels of culture, this is what I love most about my travel. Seeing Morocco through the lens of a well-informed interesting native Berber, Mustapha provided layers of inspiring local culture to my Journey.
All along the drives through the countryside, near the dramatic gorges of the Dades Valley and Ziz Valley teeming with towering date palms as far as you can see, we saw numerous goat and lamb herders, I am insanely attracted to baby goats and lambs, shouting for one every time we saw a flock! Of course, we didn’t stop, he would slow for photos, but they aren’t pets. As we made our way to Essaouria, along the side of the road were the iconic Argan trees with goats climbing in the tree branches – a truly fanciful Dali-esque sight. Mustapha quickly stopped and said run! The owner, his young son and daughter were under the tree, the tree literally filled with goats. It was kismet, the little girl recognized the lustful look on my face, walked over and plopped a darling baby goat into my arms! Heaven! Another Twenty Camel Day goal achieved!
Travel offers so much more than photographic images, one should become immersed in a culture’s history, language, customs, and delicious cuisine. As you explore cultural distinctions, you may discover that we’re all not so different after all. I was humbled by an invitation to the village home of one of the staff members of Dar Ahlam, he and his wife lived nearby, a grand table of tea and nibbles awaited me. Mustapha’s family more than welcomed me, they embraced me and despite no common language, we communicated.
Mustapha was an excellent navigator, an easy to be with travel friend, searcher for bubbly, I can add fifteen more titles to the list. He is truly an excellent listener, and he sincerely wants clients to enjoy their experiences, he is a dedicated people pleaser. Besides always having yet another packet of tissue for a bathroom, always having a coin for the bathroom, always knowing what I should tip here or there, with nary a complaint when said questions were repeated numerous times a day. Without asking, always schlepping my camera bag, my pashmina, never mentioning that I kind of engulfed the front seats with my essential bags. I relied on him completely and experienced a little self-doubt on my travel capabilities when the days were winding down and I would need to function on my own in Europe. He made it very easy to be a tourist; I was not my usual manage everything, be in total control traveler.
When I met our team at La Mamounia for cocktails, they told me if they could clone him there would be dozens of Mustapha’s in their basket, he is the absolute finest Client Ombudsman, our clients are in the very best hands in Morocco!
I survived Nineteen Days of Camel Caravan and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” Anthony Bourdain