Albertine Books : a Sanctuary for the Mind and the Soul

Nestled inside the historic Payne Whitney mansion, a building designed by the legendary Stanford White, on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan’s posh Upper East Side, Albertine Books is a bookseller located within the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Clearly conceived as a physical medium through which to promote French language, literature, and culture, Albertine offers the flaneur a delightful sanctuary from the (often maddening) bustle and noise of New York and stands as a shrine to words and ideas. While walking together along Museum Mile, my wife, my faithful companion in bookstore lingerings and haunting historic homes, introduced me to Albertine.

A statue of a young boy with missing arms and an archer’s sling  greets visitors at the entrance, politely informing all guests that they are visiting a special place. The statue is a replica of the Young Archer, controversially attributed to Michelangelo himself and now housed at the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Young Archer
Young Archer (replica), attributed to Michelangelo, Payne Whitney Mansion. Note the doorway to Albertine Books in the background (Photograph by author).

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