In the pictures above, on the corner across the street, you see before you the most magnificent bookstore in all of Paris. I'm getting a little ahead of myself, though.
My lovely daughter and I got up early for a day alone on the streets of Paris. The weather wasn't cooperating with our planned shopping excursion to Montmartre, so we came up with another plan. We took the Metro from Oberkampf to Opera and walked to the high rise shops called Galeries Lafayette. The shops are situated near the perfume factory we had visited earlier in the week and the gorgeous Opera Garnier. We had lunch that day in the cafeteria on the top floor of the high rise and had wanted to go back to wander through all the lovely things we saw on our ride up the escalator.
I'm not a shopper, as I am sure I've mentioned here before, probably multiple times. My lovely daughter got her shopping gene as well as mine and maybe those of two or three other people in the family. We stopped and looked at each and every little stand displaying wares for sale. There were items as diverse as scarves, souveniers, women's shoes, towel wraps for your hair, and children's toys. I think it took us an hour to walk from the Metro stop to the Galeries Lafayette.
Once inside, we marvelled at all the beautiful things available for purchase. There were six or seven floors, each one filled with gorgeous goods, like an upscale department store, but French. As we ascended, we looked at things to purchase for my daughter or to take home with us, and we looked just to look. My daughter had me take pictures of these lovely designer gowns so that I could try to recreate them for her next dance or prom. They both cost more than a small used car. You should have seen the prices on the wedding gowns.
She wanted a coat. We began looking in an area that we thought was the juniors department. We were on a floor of designer clothing, and the prices were more than we wanted to pay. Some of them much more. But she continued to look and as we made our way around the floor, we came to a designer who specialized in more affordable clothing for young women. There she found a little trench coat she loved, just longer than a mini skirt in a soft army green. It is beautifully cut and fits her well. She is wearing the coat below in a picture taken at the gate of the Tuilleries Gardens. (Her aunt says this picture is very "Madeleine, the teenage years").
We bought shoes, dresses, some tops, teal blue tights, a couple of lovely patterned silk scarves for me, and little presents for her brothers and father, my parents and my mother-in-law. The escalators ran all the way to the roof of the building, for gorgeous views of Paris. Even though the day was overcast and gray, you could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
We had a fantastic time, but we were tired and needed sustenance. After a meal in the Lafayette Caffe followed by ridiculously decadent desserts, we decided to return to the hotel. As we watched the underground world of the Metro pass us by, we discussed our purchases. My lovely daughter realized she had forgotten one important thing: a French language dictionary and a book, about third grade level or so, that she could use to improve her French reading and vocabulary skills. She thought that someone in a bookstore might be able to help her choose well. We were leaving in just a few days and might not have much more free time. I remembered that first day we had seen what looked like a charming little bookstore near the hotel. It was still open when we passed by on our way to the hotel from Oberkampf Station, so we rushed to the hotel and took our bags and parcels to our room. We ran back down the three flights of stairs and out the door, walking the two or three city blocks and crossing Boulevard Voltaire to get to the book store, Paperterie Appel Librairie, which I think is literally translated "stationery call bookshop".
We had stopped in the little grocery for drinks and as we walked in, we carried them with us. A man about my age spoke to us sharply in French. We did not understand. My daughter said, "Pardon?" He immediately recognized that we weren't French and said in his heavily accented English that drinks weren't allowed in the store. He walked over to where we stood and took them from us, placing them on his counter for us to retrieve when we were ready to leave. A woman who we supposed to be his wife asked if we needed help. She had dark, short curly hair and dark eyes. She was impeccably dressed and groomed, and reminded me of a grown up version of the French exchange student in Better Off Dead. My daughter spoke to her in schoolgirl French, asking for a good dictionary and a book recommendation. There was much back and forth, and a young girl not much older than my daughter came from the back and started to speak to us in excellent English. The older woman walked away and busied herself at a shelf of books.
My lovely daughter settled on a small, thick dictionary, one that was recommended by the young girl, Larousse dictionnaire français-anglais. She held a stack of children's books in her hands, trying to decide which interested her most. She has been a Harry Potter fan from a young age, and the book she selected, Ma soeur est une sorcière, translates literally to "my sister is a sorceress". Perfect. I selected a note pad printed with fleur de lis in a subtle pattern.
We took our selections to the front of the little shop and put them on the counter. The woman reappeared with a book in her hand. She conversed with my daughter in English, searching carefully for her words. The book was a gift for my daughter, for her to read when she mastered reading books in French. The title is one of the woman's latest favorites, hygiène de l'assassin (hygiene of the assassin). She wanted my lovely daughter to have the book because it pleased her that "this sweet American youth" was studying the French language.
The gift was surprising and delightful. It made me teary eyed that a complete stranger would have such a reaction to my daughter's quest to master French. There are wonderful people all over the world. Two of them own a bookstore on the corner of Boulevard Voltaire and Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud in Paris.