This English-language bookshop on Rue de la Carreterie in Avignon was founded in 1994 (or 1992, depending on which website you believe) by Wolfgang Zuckermann. He called it “Shakespeare” in the tradition of the bookshop “Shakespeare & Co.” that was started in Paris by Sylvia Beach in 1919.
Wolfgang Zuckermann was born in Berlin in 1922. He became an American citizen in 1938 and for many years was a builder of harpsichords in New York. He left the United States in 1969 (to protest the Vietnam war) and moved to England, where he became known as an author and a social and environmental activist.
For many years, Zuckermann was a writer and editor for The Commons, which describes itself as “a wide open, world-wide, non-government, non-aligned, fully independent public forum concerned with making a modest contribution to improving our understanding and control of technology as it impacts on people in their daily lives.”
He was 72 (or 70) when he founded his bookshop in Avignon. After running it for 18 (or 20) years, he decided the time had come to retire (at age 90), so he sold the shop to a bilingual student named Camille Vourc’h, who was 25 at the time. She re-named the shop “Camili Books & Tea” and set about organizing writing workshops, workshops for children, knitting evenings (under the title “Stitch’n Bitch”), English classes, an English conversation group, French classes and art exhibitions, in addition to running the bookshop and the tearoom.
By the way, when I tried to mention the knitting evenings “Stitch’n Bitch” on the now-defunct website VirtualTourist, the word “Bitch” was automatically replaced by four asterisks ****.
When I first wrote this post, I said I didn’t know if Camille Vourc’h was related to the soprano Karen Vourc’h. In the meantime, I have heard from Camille Vourc’h that she is indeed Karen Vourc’h’s sister.
The name Vourc’h, by the way, is a Breton name which means castle and originally designated the owner or inhabitant of a castle.
The bookshop now consists of consists of about 20,000 books: 80 % used, 20 % new. The tearoom has “a wide selections of teas from the world, as well as the amazing flower teas which bloom in your cup”; also organic coffee and “homemade pastries and organic snacks”. There is also a small outdoor patio described as “a hidden gem that stays cool in the summer!”
Update November 2018: An e-mail from Camili Books & Tea has arrived with the news that Wolfgang Zuckermann, the founder and former owner of the bookshop, has passed away. He was in his nineties, probably 96.
In 2019, Camille Vourc’h sold the bookshop to another young woman, Rihame Allouch, who is continuing to run it in the same way (except of course during lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic).
Address: Camili BOOKS & TEA, 155 rue de la Carreterie, 84000 Avignon
Phone: + 33 (0) 4 90 27 38 50
A typical feature, for this part of France, is the dangling electrical cable above the street sign.
My photos in this post are from 2014. I revised the text in 2020.