In this world of the online bookselling behemoth Amazon (in its seven personalities), it’s always nice to find an independent bookshop catering to one’s specialist area of interest. There is a handful of bookshops specialising in gastronomy and oenology, but they are often unknown to many potential customers. Few large countries seem to be able to support more than one real specialist and the advantage that chain retailers have in publisher discounts and freight contracts means that business for any specialist is hard.
Imagine my joy when I found a new gastronomic bookshop — and purely by chance. As the rain poured down on me on Place Bellecour in the French city of Lyon, I frantically looked around for somewhere to take shelter and spied a bookshop bearing the words ‘la librairie de toutes les cuisines’ (the bookshop for all cuisines).
Opened early in 2007, the bookshop Badiane — ‘la librairie de toutes les cuisines’ includes a fairly large, attractive retail area, a children’s area, a kitchen and small gallery. Badiane stocks new books, mostly in French, and the owners, Marianne Vellieux and Catherine Guérin, schedule regular food events and cookery classes. There’s also an online catalogue. They told me that they plan to offer English-language courses to cater to the tourist market — a great idea, as Lyon is well known as a gastronomic destination in France (and is a very attractive city too, even though all the Parisians I know asked me ‘So, why do you want to go to Lyon?’).