Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Bookshops along with observations and broad generalisations about Paris.

Presently the biggest numbers of the tourists (and there are many) are French with Americans being a close second.

The price of things generally is wallet-deflatingly expensive e.g. most coffees are around NZ$10, a simple salad at lunchtime with a glass of wine will set you back NZ$50.

All the good bistros and brasseries are always busy.

Bookshops are often highly specialized e.g. I have seen one that sold only graphic novels, one that sells only books to do with photography, and another that sold only economics/management text books.
The Metro is clean and highly efficient.

Parisians are stylish and elegant people who pay a lot of attention to their appearance.

The most dangerous place in Paris, probably all of France, when you are walking is on a pedestrian crossing.

The French are huge readers of graphic novels.

The French are the most creative people in the world when it comes to parking their cars. Footpaths, pedestrian crossings, no stopping at all times zones, bus stops, anywhere at all there s a gap they will occupy it. And if the gap isn’t big enough they will soon fix that. Yesterday while sitting drinking coffee and people watching (my favourite occupation here) at Café Flore we observed a guy park his big car in a gap that wasn’t long enough . He did it by backing up to the little Fiat behind him and shoving it a metre or two backwards, it in turn hit the car behind. It provided entertainment to all at Café Flore with several locals providing verbal encouragement.
You see very few local cars without dents and scratches. No wonder.

Monday I visited four very varied bookstores.
First up the happy chaos of Shakespeare & Co. This place with its rambling rooms and stock all over the show is arguably the world’s best known English language bookstore so that in addition to attracting bibliophiles it is also well and truly n the tourist map and at this time f the year you can hardly move for the crowds.
Next, La Hune, the shop that many regard as Paris’ finest. With an ultra modern white fit-out and books superbly organized by category and sub-category it is I guess the exact opposite to Shakespeare & Co. And of curse all the books are in French. This place also has the distinction of being right between two great literary haunts – Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore.
Around the corner to the Taschen Bookstore. I guess as a publisher if you have a list as broad and appealing as Taschen then you can stock a shop entirely with your own titles. This is one of a number of their stores in major international cities. One was opened in London last year. Spent an hour in here browsing at their titles which I hadn’t seen before.
The last call of the day, and the oddest, was Tea and Tattered Pages, which I found after a short trip on the Metro. It has been going 20 years and has some 70,000 second hand English language books , the majority being paperback fiction, popular and literary from the past 30 years, with some a lot older. All organized alphabetical by author.
The owner wants to retire and has just put the place on the market. It is on two levels with most fiction upstairs, and sci-fi/fantasy downstairs along with the non-fiction and children’s books.

1 comment:

Kate Blackhurst said...

God I love Paris - I was an au pair there in the late 1980s and spent all of my spare time (and francs) in the museums and bookshops. So jealous - have fun!