Penelope Fletcher of The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore, as told to Lisa Anselmo
Treize au Jardin is just down the street from my bookstore, The Red Wheelbarrow, in the 6th arrondissement. Owners Kajsa von Sydow (Swedish) and Laurel Sanderson (American) bring the friendliness of both of their cultures to this beautiful café, which sits just opposite Le Jardin du Luxembourg. Kajsa, who is often the welcoming face greeting you at the door, is partly responsible for the graceful and flowery décor, and comfortableness of the café: the private, intimate places to cozy up in; the large, round tables for groups of friends to gather—everything is extremely well thought out in this beautiful café.
But a great part of the attraction to Treize au Jardin is the food, which celebrates the American South. That’s Laurel’s domain. Biscuits, eggs Benedict, chicken and grits, craft cocktails and wholesome alcohol-free drinks, one called Liquid Sunshine. All the food is organic and responsibly sourced, prepared by chefs with years of experience.
I like the Artichoke Heart Pie, and the quinoa salad. Almost every day for lunch, I order their delicious daily soup, and a hot biscuit. But most people go for their Southern brunches (which are served all day, every day), or the Pecan Chicken. Or, their special Pulled Pork. They also make delicious cake, by the way.
The café is popular with locals—couples having a romantic rendez-vous; work colleagues conducting lunch meetings; families; writers; people looking for a café to read or work in—or even to propose in; American expats who want a taste of home; Parisians who want to travel to the American South for an hour or two. All of us.
But Treize au Jardin is a special place to me, personally. I owe the location of my bookstore to them. Laurel, who previously ran the much-adored Treize…A Baker’s Dozen on Rue des Saints Pères in the 7th, and a cake shop before that, is a friend from way back. We had often talked casually about doing a café-bookshop, and when they found their location on Rue de Medicis, there was an old librairie–book store—near them that was also going up for rent. Laurel told me about it and I swooped in and grabbed it. Laurel and Kajsa opened their café early summer 2018; we opened later that same summer.
I love having a café just next to the bookshop, and it’s wonderful how we share many of the same customers. There are families that eat at the café almost every weekend, and the children will rush into the bookshop to choose books before lunch arrives. I often send my own customers to the café, who report back how pleased they are with my recommendation. Our two businesses also help each other out in little ways, like when we run out of the rolls of paper for our credit card machines.
Cafés create community in a different way from bookshops, but in a way that compliments them. On Friday evenings, Treize au Jardin has great live music, which makes a wonderful end to our week at the bookshop. And of course, we at the Red Wheelbarrow stop over at Treize several times a day for their delicious coffee.
It’s a really warm feeling to have good friends running businesses near each other. We’re a community serving a community. •
PENELOPE FLETCHER is the owner of The Red Wheelbarrow, a beloved Anglophone bookstore on 9 Rue de Medicis, just opposite the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens in the 6th arrondissement. Follow the shop on Instagram.
SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER and get the latest articles, news, and more. (Sign-up in the left-hand menu bar on desktop, or at the bottom of the page on mobile.)