Paris’ Used Bookstores: Tea and Tattered Pages

Paris’ Used Bookstores: Tea and Tattered Pages
Paris’ Used Bookstores, Part IV: Tea and Tattered Pages Leaving the San Francisco Book Co., we’re also going to be leaving the neighborhood.  So far we’ve been hitting used bookstores in the Latin Quarter, the Sorbonne area, and the university section of Paris.  Although Shakespeare and Company has taken on a touristy side the past few years–watch for Shakespeare and Company tee shirts, coming soon–the others have all been bookstores such as you might expect in a university town in the U.S., with relatively significant sections on Shakespeare, poetry, literary criticism, philosophy, and history.  But the last bookstore on our list isn’t in this neighborhood.  It’s a little farther over toward the area where a lot of Americans in Paris live, Americans who aren’t students.  Right now, we’re just barely out of the Fifth Arrondissement.  We’re going to go farther on into the Sixth, bordering on the Seventh!  If that doesn’t tell you a lot about the place we’re going, well, I guess you’re just not Gene Kelly–you’re not a real American in Paris, you’re just an American passing through Paris.  That’s okay!  Don’t worry.  I’m here to teach you. This next place is also a bit of a walk to get to.  We could take the métro, but it’s not raining. Sherlock Holmes had something called “three pipe problems.”  This is a “two pipe walk.”  So just wait a minute while I get ready. Don’t worry, my tobacco doesn’t stink.  It’s funny about pipe tobacco; usually when it smells good, it tastes bad, and when it tastes good, it smells bad.  Mine tastes good and smells good. It’s got cherry in it.  Like it?  Sorry, I didn’t blow smoke into your face, it was the wind.  You’re ready?  Then let’s go. So leaving the San Francisco Book Co., we’ll turn right then hang another right on that first little street; that takes us to the Place de l’Odéon.  See, there’s the Starbucks I had mentioned:  crowded as usual. Now we’ll turn left and walk along the Boulevard St.-Germain for a while. Look, a gaggle of girls bent over their Paris map.  Should I be nice?  Okay. Je peux vous aider?  Blank stares.  Can I help you find something?  “Ja, ja!”  Ah, plump and blonde, I thought they were Americans.  Germans, but English still works better than French even in Paris.   They point to St.-Germain-des-Prés.  So I point to the narrow cross street they should take then hook my thumb left.  Thank-yous and dankes. Here’s where we turn, Rue du Four. You’re already tired?  Or is it just bored?  Okay, we’re at the métro Mabillon.  Take the direction Boulogne and get off at Duroc.  It’s only three stations.  I’ll meet you there.  Wait by the exit.  No, it’s okay, I like to walk. (………………………………….………………….Denotes the passage of time……………………………………………….) See, that wasn’t too long. Look, bright yellow sunlight!  Rare in Paris!  And you were down in the métro!  Take the Rue de Sèvres to Rue Mayet, right.  Walk, walk, walk and there it is.  You can see the black and white sign sticking out over the red and white striped awning.  Tea and Tattered Pages, 24 Rue Mayet.  They told me I’m supposed to put in stuff like that.  I didn’t for Shakespeare and Co. or the Abbey Bookshop.  A recent directive.  Also the hours: 11 to 7, 12 to 6 on Sundays.  No internet address.  Hmm.  I already cleverly indicated that the étro is Duroc.  I guess we can go inside. As I said earlier–you don’t remember!  You’re supposed to be taking notes!  This is a different kind of bookstore in a different kind of neighborhood.  Wider streets and sidewalks, larger, more solid apartment buildings.   Here, we’re almost in the seventh arrondissement.  There aren’t many students here.  Not that Tea and Tattered Pages is a “rich” or snob bookstore.  Even the name tells you otherwise, but its clientele isn’t the same as our other used bookstores. Tea and Tattered Pages was first owned and run by a woman named Christie (although it may not have been spelled that way).  It must have been about 13 years ago because the first time I went in, she was pregnant and she asked me if I knew anything about the problem of pregnant women and cats.  I certainly don’t know now, which is why I’m a bit vague about it, but at the time, my wife had been pregnant so I knew all about it and I managed to reassure her that she would have a cat-disease-free baby, which she eventually did.  So, my daughter being 14– wait, I think she’s 14–that dates it at about 15 years ago.  Then, about three or four years ago, Christie sold the shop to Hilda, who now runs it. Hilda is, I seem to remember, from South America, but probably of German extraction.  She had a slight accent, but I’ll be darned if I know what it is.  Not Spanish, not German.  Anyway, there is a womanly tradition of welcome here. Look, I’ll show you. You go in first.  I’ll be right behind, but as though we weren’t together.  You’ll see. “Hello.  Is this your first visit to Tea and Tattered Pages?  Let me explain where everything is.  Up here we have… See, very welcoming, which is not to say that people aren’t friendly and open at the other places we’ve been, but it’s not the same.  The difference could also be because there’s a tea room here, hence the name. See, back through there are a few tables and chairs.  You can get tea and bagels or muffins, whatever.  You can look at the menu yourself, but it’s a pretty good choice.  So this is not just a bookstore; that could also account for the difference in welcome. The spaces for books here has always been shared by animals, formerly a parrot and now–no, that’s not a pumpkin, it’s a big orange cat.  Around the door and the desk are notice boards fluttering with papers about readings and meetings.  There’s always classical…
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