Cannes: Amid festival glitz, a new chapter for the English Bookshop

Cannes Film Festival

People pass by the official poster of the 68th Cannes Film Festival in southeastern France.

(Bertrand Langlois / AFP / Getty Images)

It’s not just the films that change here from year to year here, it’s the city as well.

The oldest gay bar in the south of France is now a gelato emporium. The once-spacious post office is now a luxury hotel. And the Cannes English Bookshop, a landmark for three decades, is going to be sold and possibly go out of business.

Known for its distinctive sign and a street location on Rue Bivouac Napoleon that “our French customers thought quite strange,” the shop is seeing its last days under the ownership of Wally and Christel Storer, who’ve run it for 31 years, 27 in its current location.

“Thirty years is long enough,” Christel Storer says. “This is our baby, but babies have to leave the nest, even ones as lovely as this.”


A charming spot enlivened by the Storers’ welcoming personalities, the store has outlasted other similar ventures in Nice and Monaco despite the fact, as Wally Storer remembers, that “everyone predicted doom and disappointment” when the couple moved from Australia and opened their first shop in 1984.

The Cannes English Bookshop’s success, Wally Storer says, is due in part to the numerous conventions, including the film festival, that come to town every year (“We’re not so dependent on foreign tourists,” he says) and a cosmopolitan local population that gives the store half its customers.

The Storers do not have control over the kind of business that replaces their store, but they note with pride that several of the potential new owners have expressed an interest in keeping the nature of the establishment the same.

“It would be nice if it could continue as a bookshop, that would be lovely,” says Christel Storer, and indeed it would.


Get our weekly Indie Focus newsletter