9.22.2015

In Love with Albertine, a Bookshop on Fifth Avenue

Albertine, the elegant bookstore inside the mansion housing the Cultural Services of the French Embassy at 972 Fifth Avenue (Fifth at 79th St.), is hard to forget. Anyone who has ever fallen in love with French language or culture may find that love rekindled here. Set within the Payne Whitney mansion, itself a masterpiece by Stanford White, the two-story shop provides an intimate stage set for adventures in cultural exchange. The starry blue and gold ceiling mural reminded me of my first French literary crush, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince.

Interior view of Albertine,  972 Fifth Avenue


In addition to the interior design, Albertine's extensive selection of works in English and French led me to recall many more infatuations with notable French literary, cultural and philosophical figures. The shop, named for Marcel Proust's object of desire, is set up to evoke memories and trigger associations. I was delighted to find so many books by French writer Patrick Modiano, the 2014 Nobel prize winner, not just because I have wanted to know more about him but also because I couldn't readily remember his name.                      



Entrance to Albertine. The former Payne Whitney mansion on Fifth Avenue houses the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

Albertine features extensive programming to keep the place vitally connected to the present as well as to things past. Consult the shop's website for details. Albertine is a project of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

Albertine, 972 Fifth Avenue
Website http://albertine.com

Ideas: I'm tempted to pair a visit to Albertine with a drink at Bar Pleiades, 20 E. 76th St. It's something about the night sky. Conservatory Water in Central Park would also make a fine short walk from here, weather permitting.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.

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