Ruth and I were headed for the antique stores in Village Saint-Paul when we stumbled on to the Red Wheelbarrow, an English-language bookstore with a bright red facade.
For years I’ve known about two other English-language bookstores here. WH Smith on the rue de Rivoli bustles with crowds, but always has the bestsellers. Shakespeare & Co., on the Left Bank, has musty used books tucked into a rabbit warren of rooms and narrow shelves. But no one who worked at these places ever spoke to me except to take my money.
At the Red Wheelbarrow, in contrast, we were greeted cheerily when we walked in the door. The young woman helping us had lots of ideas for books to interest us. You could easily spend an hour browsing its shelves for classics, art, history and fiction.
The Red Wheelbarrow is smaller than those other stores, but this the place I’d recommend when you want to read about Paris while here. In the front is a table with all the Paris-centered books. I’ve been reading Cara Black’s series of murder mysteries since she wrote Murder in the Marais. The Red Wheelbarrow has a nice selection, but they sell fast. Ruth bought a copy of Murder on the Ile Saint-Louis. The series features Aimée Leduc, a young woman who’s a computer forensics specialist – bright, contemporary, tough and vulnerable.
Ruth also picked up a copy of My Life in France, compiled by Julie Child’s grandson Alex Prud’homme. I gobbled up that book; it makes you sorry you missed the Fifties in Paris.
The Red Wheelbarrow is at 22, rue Saint-Paul, in the 4th arrondisement (the Marais). It’s open every day (only in the afternoon on Sunday).