Monday, January 28, 2013

A Little Corner of the Left Bank

Maybe it's because of the name (rue Monsieur le 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 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...
À bientôt!


At January 28, 2013 at 4:45 PM , Blogger French Girl in Seattle said...

Bonjour Paige. Great info. I have never noticed Kyrie Eleison's boutique when I was in Paris but will make sure to swing by next time I am in the area. To answer your question, a favorite boutique of mine on the Left Bank is the Upla store... I love all handbags, and their famous and colorful "besaces" (I own two in different sizes,) have been around since the 1970s...
Bonne semaine. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)
Upla - 5 rue saint Benoît, Paris 6ème, métro Saint Germain des Prés.

At January 28, 2013 at 8:00 PM , Blogger Little Pieces of Light said...

What a great post!! I love this area of the Left Bank as well and am a big fan of Le Comptoir du Relais. Have never been to SF Book Co. though, and as a big book worm (and huge fan of used books!), this is definitely going on my list of places to visit when I venture across to St-Germain next time. Thanks so much for the wonderful tips!



At January 29, 2013 at 6:50 AM , Blogger labergerebasque said...

I could meander in that area for hours. Every time I have gone to Paris I have lost weight, I walk so much, looking into all the little “nooks and crannies”. I could spend a whole day at the bouquinists…my peché mignon.

At January 29, 2013 at 7:18 AM , Blogger Laura said...

One note about Kyrie Eleison. It is actually from the Greek for the phrase "Lord have mercy" and part of the Catholic mass. Probably not the owner of the boutiques actual name.

At February 1, 2013 at 11:01 AM , Blogger Paige said...

I know the Upla brand but have never visited the store. Putting it on "the list!" Thanks for the tip and for sharing!

At February 1, 2013 at 11:04 AM , Blogger Paige said...

Bonjour Milsters - I think the SF Book Co is definitely lesser known than the other English language book shops. It's quiet and unassuming (as all book stores should be, right?) but it's relative obscurity is one of the things I love about it. Thank you for commenting and happy reading!

At February 1, 2013 at 11:06 AM , Blogger Paige said...

Ahh, getting lost on the little there anything better? And I agree about les bouquinists. Must make a point to take a stroll along the Seine very soon. Merci!

At February 1, 2013 at 11:10 AM , Blogger Paige said...

Hi Laura and thank you for sharing. My guess is that the owner (whose name I do now know) is having some fun with the words "Kyrie Eleison." The French have such a love of word play ("les jeux de mots") and are so clever with it, especially when naming restaurants and shops. Thank you so much for commenting!

At February 15, 2013 at 2:16 PM , Blogger goodoldchinwag said...

You had me with that photo of the zebra belt with patent leather orange! On my list next time I am there! Both restaurant and boutique.


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