It was the shoe designer Christian Louboutin who first alerted me to the existence of La Maison Rustique, one of his favourite shops in Paris. Since then, this shabby-chic bookshop in St Germain specialising in gardening and horticulture has become one of my favourite bookstores too.
I don’t have green fingers – plants rapidly wilt and die in my custody – and I don’t really have a garden (rather it’s a petite terrasse), but I do like looking at pictures of French country gardens. I’m also addicted to books on French rustic interiors, and La Maison Rustique stocks both in abundance. In addition to definitive guides to dahlias, roses, waterlilies and Japanese maples, there is also a large and inspiring selection of books devoted to interior design, or what it calls “art de vivre”.
Many of the books on my shelves have emanated from La Maison Rustique, the most recent acquisition being a copy of Maisons en Provence, €25, by Art & Decoration. The shop has also proved a goldmine of gifts for design-conscious friends. It was here, for example, that I discovered Maison: Christian Liaigre by Herbert Ypma – a coffee-table book with a stunning stripy cover, which has proved just the ticket for several birthdays over the years.