The Red Wheelbarrow bookshop in Paris
In April 2006, in The Bookseller, I read this -
"At the heart of the city of Paris' 4th arrondissement, le Marais is steeped in literary pedigree. In previous years, it has played host to Victor Hugo and Madame de Sévigne; its narrow streets are now home to an idiosyncratic bookstore called The Red Wheelbarrow."
The shop opened in September 2001, a few months too late for me to visit it while celebrating a special wedding anniversary in the city where Mr Bookworm and I honeymooned. I clipped the article and put it in an enveloped marked Next Trip to Paris. Yesterday it surfaced during a tidy-up.
My favourite part of Paris is on the Left Bank. The Red Wheelbarrow is at 22 rue St Paul, north of the river. According to The Bookseller article, the name comes from a poem "So Much Depends Upon" by William Carlos Williams, an American poet of whom I had never heard.
The shop is run by Canadian Penelope Fletcher Le Masson and American Abigail Altman. According to Suresh Ariaratham who wrote the piece in The Bookseller, they have complementary characters : Penelope generating wild ideas and Abigail providing the attention to detail to make them happen. [Photo borrowed from Lit Minds blog.]
My main memories of the Marais are of the Pompidou Centre which we thought an abomination and of the Places des Vosges which was lovely.
Somewhere in my files, but I can't lay hands on it, is an article from House & Garden or The World of Interiors showing the interior of an apartment, in one of the old buildings surrounding the Place des Vosges, which has been rented or bought by Richard Rogers and furnished in a way that made me roll my eyes. I seem to remember huge yellow bean bags in place of the kind of furniture suited to such a building.
The Red Wheelbarrow has some interesting book reviews. It's years since I read Anthony Trollope's Palliser novels, reviewed thus –
"… I need to tell any of you who are interested in democratic political systems and above all in parliamentary government, these books are a wonder and a delight. There has been a radio reading in Britain of The Prime Minister and the popular reaction seems to be to confuse this late nineteenth century prime minister with Tony Blair. The books are spookily prophetic. Lady Glencora has her clone in Cherie Blair, we find a politically correct suicide, leakings from the press and their consequence on the political developments, the questioning of the government's integrity—it reads as though you had already seen the movie in most of the details. Unlike the versions in our press, the author's humor is ever present. Plantagent Palliser is the prime minister's name. Isn't that enough to make you want to dip into the nineteenth century and discover the mirror replay in our times?"
Yes, it is.