“The Only Street in Paris” is a quaint retelling of author, Elaine Sciolino’s, experiences while living on the Rue des Martyrs. Amidst an onslaught of modern conveniences and big box stores, the Rue des Martyrs is a charming slice of Paris that still strives to maintain its traditional, and sometimes quirky, French identity. Throughout the book, Sciolino relates her encounters with many of the street’s unique inhabitants, from a fishmonger and cheese connoisseur, to a knife sharpener, and even the manager of a local transvestite cabaret.
Unfortunately, this intriguing glimpse into French life seems to be best suited for a very particular audience. While it is fascinating to see French life from such a personal and traditional perspective, Sciolino’s experiences are ultimately far too focused and specific for the average reader. The characters you meet are often quite charming and lovable, but, unless you have a particular interest in the Rue des Martyrs, or in French culture, I’m afraid this book is likely to fall flat.
I have no idea how I happened to get onto a mini French travel binge, but apparently I did! The verdict, “Almost French” = well worth reading, “The Only Street in Paris” = charming, but a little bit slow. If you’re in the mood for something slightly Parisian, my advice would be to pick up “Almost French” first!