Maybe it’s because of the name (rue Monsieur le Prince…how sweet!) but I wanted to tell you about a little corner of the city that I love. It’s in St Germain between Saint Sulpice and the Luxembourg Gardens, not far from metro Odeon. I was in the area last week for an appointment and took a little detour to stop by one of my favorite English language book shops, the San Francisco Book Co. It’s one of only a handful of similar shops in the city and I always find something wonderful (usually on the shelves out front before I even walk through the door.)
I don’t know about you but I much prefer second-hand books (and the shops that sell them) to the piles of shiny new releases at the big chains. Something about finding that perfect book among slightly dusty stacks and feeling like it was meant for you…love that. It’s also great knowing that someone else has relished it before you. Books aren’t meant to be new, they should be dog-eared, loved and ideally, shared. It’s as if you’re contributing to the life of the book by discovering it, savoring it, then passing it along to another reader.
In fact, several streets in that area are dotted with specialty or rare booksellers, especially along the rue des Medicis near the Palais du Luxembourg. Their dusty windows filled with gorgeous antique leather-bound books feel right out of another time. The fact that they (still) exist here is yet another reason to love this city.
Anyway, I picked up Run by Anne Patchett at the SF Book Co. (a relative bargain at 12E for a hard cover) and continued on toward metro Odeon when I made a happy discovery of a different sort: an adorable boutique called Kyrie Eleison. Do you know this little shop? The selection of slightly retro dresses, candy colored denim and carefully-selected accessories is as chic and feminine as the shop’s owner who greets (and helps style) her customers with a warm smile. She’s the kind of salesperson you hope for (but don’t often find) in Paris. I spotted some fun sale items and what’s more, it’s an independent boutique — something that seems harder to find these days on the Left Bank.
I’m surprised I haven’t stumbled upon her shop before because it’s just a couple doors away from my favorite restaurant in the area, Le Comptoir du Relais. This gem, helmed by beloved chef Yves Camdeborde, is hardly undiscovered but always worth the wait for its fresh, inventive takes on French classics and great people-watching. They don’t take reservations so go a bit early to avoid the dinner queue or arrive before noon to nab a table for lunch (service starts at 12noon).
I then wandered down toward Saint Sulpice and did a bit of window shopping before hopping on the 87 bus and heading home. A fun way to pass a couple of hours on a chilly Paris afternoon. Do you have any favorite spots on the Left Bank? Do tell…