It has been said that estimates indicate there are tens of thousands of English-speaking and even more so, bilingual expatriates living in the region, particularly in cities like Nice, a cultural hub in the French Riviera.

So when I noticed online a new bookshop and café aptly called, “Read The Room” having recently opened in Nice, I had to check it out. I was delighted to meet the owners, Danaé and Andrea at their establishment, located near Place Garibaldi at 3 rue Papon.

Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and what inspired you to open an English bookshop and café in Nice?

My mom and I had already been living in the South of France for just over 2 years. We were both talking one day about how fun it would be to open our own business together and seeing as we are both avid readers with very little purchasing options in the area, we decided to do it ourselves! It literally happened overnight. It’s easy to be inspired in Nice.

What is the overall vision and mission for your bookshop and café?

We have a very clear vision of being a culture hotspot for English and anglophone expats and tourists. We really want to make our space a place where book lovers can connect over their love of literature and a good cup of coffee (and a delicious slice of cake too!). A big part of our mission is to open our doors to cultural events as well so that the community can stay connected.

Read the Room

How did you come up with the concept for combining a bookshop with a café?

This is a very popular concept overseas especially in the UK, US and South Africa where my mom is from. We wanted to give the option to people to be able to sit and enjoy their book outside of their usual comfort zone. The margins on buying and selling books is also so small, so offering the coffee side (with our menu) helps us stay afloat and enables us to invest in more and diverse book stock.

RTR Food

RTR Menu

What kind of atmosphere are you aiming to create for your customers?

In my personal life, I am very passionate about art, books, vintage, interior design and beautiful, aesthetic things that make you feel good. My own apartment feels like a fun museum and that’s the energy we wanted to convey for our customers. A space where you walk in and feel at home immediately. A place where you feel relaxed enough to sit by yourself and enjoy a book, and feel inspired when you look up. My mom and I have a lot of pride in our space and I think it is easily noticeable.

What types of books will you be focusing on in your inventory? I noticed you have an LGBTQ section.

Being inclusive and diverse in our book stock is a top goal and priority for us here at Read The Room. Being two strong women who have always been passionate about equality and human rights, we want our stock to reflect that. Our LGBQT selection is not just available for Pride Month, and we restock it weekly. We place quite a lot of importance in women’s rights, women authors and mental health advocacy books. We are also big on giving a platform and help amplify the voices of marginalized authors who are often silenced or ignored. These are all topics we care deeply about personally and we wanted to incorporate that professionally.

RTR LGBTQI+

Read the Room Pride

We also always make sure to check out the latest and bestsellers lists, the women’s literature prize winners and runner ups, TikTok’s booktok community favorites and our selected few Instagram book influencers to guide us and keep us up to date with what the public is reading.

We also don’t forget our children’s books and kiddies’ corner. They are also a very big priority for us as we believe reading is one of the most important aspects of a child’s life to benefit their futures. Keeping the stock fresh, educational but also interactive and fun seems to be working wonders so far!

Are there any specific genres or authors you are particularly excited to feature?

Like we mentioned above, we are very big on amplifying the voices of women and marginalized authors and it will always be a priority to seek them out. We are also very excited to feature more “alternative” books in our photography and design selection from Mack Books. We really do love our coffee table books from Assouline and the beautiful photographs they hold. At the moment, we are very focused on featuring Middle-Eastern literature from Arabic and muslim authors for all ages to enjoy and learn from.

Read the Room

Read the Room

Can you describe the kind of food and drinks you will be serving in the café?

We have a small menu made up of small, healthy, and fresh meals that run all day. We have breakfast options like chia seed pudding and granola bowls to nice lunch dishes like a delicious caesar salad or salmon trout and avocado stuffed croissant. Our avocado toast is definitely a fan favorite! We also bake fresh croissants every morning and all our pastries are homemade. We have the usual range of drinks, teas and coffees and offer matcha specials (we’ve been told they’re the best) and fresh pressed OJ everyday!

How do you plan to engage with the local community and build a loyal customer base?

We are mainly using Instagram and Facebook as our means of staying connected with our local community but we are also starting to host more events and do collaborations with people. We also have our loyalty card that customers receive after their first book purchase. We have already had two filled out so they are popular! We also have a community pinboard at the entrance of our store where customers and tourists alike can pin up information and events to advertise and find each other for a variety of activities and offers, most of which are in English.

Will you be hosting any special events or activities, such as book readings, author signings, or book clubs?

We have already hosted a book swap event which went brilliantly, people loved the idea of being able to drop books off and swap out second hand books to take home. We also have Taste Taste Thursdays, which consists of cooking a meal from a new cookbook we choose in the store every Thursday. We have a book signing coming up in July and another in August. We are also introducing the kiddies reading corner on Wednesdays: we will choose a book to read for 30 minutes every Wednesday in the kid’s corner. Every book will have a lesson or activity.

RTR Taste Test Thursday

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in setting up the bookshop and café? Especially since it seems to be a focus towards the English speaking community in France. Did you feel this is something the expat community needs and was asking for?

The English community was definitely waiting for this. The main feedback we received was that this was really needed. There wasn’t a library in a 30 minute vicinity from Nice where you could find a nice, extended selection of English books covering a variety of genres, especially for children. Read The Room has quickly become a spot for locals to come and have a coffee, enjoy a chat, have a nice salad and buy or order a new book for themselves or a friend.

The biggest challenge we faced was all the red tape that comes with French bureaucracy and admin. Even when you are French, the French are difficult, haha. But we were lucky in most aspects.

Do you have any personal favourite books or authors that have influenced your decision to open this shop?

This is a very difficult question to answer.

We have too many favorite books and authors but one that really stuck with me recently is ‘I’m Glad My Mom Died’ by Jenette McCurdy. I was totally awestruck by her courage and bravery. It’s crazy to look back and think I was 12 years old watching her on TV while she was going through hell on earth and hiding it so well. My mom recently read ‘A Woman is No Man’, by Etaf Rum, an American Palestinian author. We are always and what we read is so diverse that I wouldn’t say one particular book is what inspired the book shop. All of the stories we have ever read are part of our own.

RTR Kids

What do you hope customers will take away from their experience at your bookshop and café?

A book(s), a good word to a friend or neighbour and a revisit.

Why did you choose Nice as the location for your business?

It’s the middle ground of everything. It’s in between Monaco and Cannes and with the airport being in Nice, a lot of our clientele is around this area because of tourists and expats.

What are your future plans for the bookshop and café?

We already want to find a bigger space to have more bookshelves filled with books! We want to add a bigger seating area for reading and eating, as well as sell more art and photography when the opportunity arises to expand. We will soon be getting our terrace confirmed, so we will be adding 4 more tables outside (with shelter of course!) so more people will be able to enjoy our space.

RTR facade

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about your new bookshop and café?

Dogs are welcome and definitely get a puppacino on the house. We take special orders every week and place them on Sundays, which in turn arrive no later than the next Thursday if there are no public holidays etc. We are open to suggestions and book recommendations and anyone is welcome and free to email us should they want to use our space for an event.

How can people stay updated on your events and new arrivals?

Follow us on Instagram and make sure to turn the post notifications on so you can stay up to date with our newest arrivals, our business updates and events!

As the saying goes, reading is fundamental. Be sure to visit Read The Room the next time you are in Nice.

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All photos courtesy Read The Room

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