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20 People Found Refuge In A Famous Paris Bookstore During Attacks

"We are safe."

11/14/2015 05:33 pm ET | Updated Nov 14, 2015

A famous Parisian bookstore turned into a makeshift shelter Friday, housing 20 customers who waited out the attacks, according to Twitter users.

Patrons at Shakespeare and Company, the Left Bank literary institution opened in 1951 by American George Whitman, watched from darkened windows as police raced by. They called friends and relatives, and checked on the news, Harriet Alida Lye told The Guardian.

"We are safe in a bookshop," Lye, a writer in residence who lives above the store, said. 

"There are about 20 customers with us who’ve sat here for hours calling home," Lye continued. "I haven’t seen anything but police cars go by, and people stumbling out of bars in central Paris who clearly have no idea what is going on."

On a wistful note, Lye told the paper, "The lights of Notre Dame have been turned off, which never happens at this time of night."

Author Jamie Ford, who recently visited the store, was one of many to tweet about Shakespeare and Company. He told The Huffington Post: "There's a communal spirit about that place, so the idea that they would take in strangers (in need or otherwise) wasn't a huge surprise, but was definitely a much needed reminder of how beautiful humanity can be on a terrible night."

Below is the bookstore photographed by Ford last month. The sign above the doorway, a quote that Whitman attributed to Yeats but was actually a take on a Bible passage, had plenty of resonance Friday night.

 

Jamie Ford

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