THE VISIT TO OFR

⟨ Misc ⟩

Bookshop, Acts as the Storeroom of Life Experiences

The visit to Ofr

January 2017

「Ofr也就是關於生活,我不是想成為億萬富翁,不是想變得非常有名,我只想擁有美好生活,但是能擁有美好生活是件奢侈的事。」

跟著地址「20 rue Dupetit Thouars 75003」尋找,在距離巴黎共和國廣場不遠的街區,店門外架了兩把長桌,上面鋪滿書本雜誌,偶爾會有被某個封面吸引而停下腳步的路人在探頭探腦,或昨天才來過的熟客慣性於門前蹓躂。通過敞大玻璃窗往內看,堆滿海量的視覺類讀物,擺設與陳列皆非常隨興。這裡是Ofr,不少愛書人也慕名而來挖寶的巴黎獨立書店,除了選書獨到,更因為它的自由氣息。

店主Alexandre與Marie兩兄妹同遊世界,走遍過百個地方後蒐集的各種美好,都收在這個空間內,是書店同時也是出版社與藝廊,每星期有兩次免費展覽與音樂會,Alexandre更會讓藝術家們到他在法國南部的大屋小住,為了讓大家有更多自由空間做創作,可以試試問他拿鑰匙呢!

「二十年前,我們把書店視作『oeuvre』去開始,就是在你人生的最後,當你仍做著某件事,持續地做,我們便稱之為『oeuvre』,那不是一件藝術品或什麼,而是當你投放了四、五十年去將同一件事愈做愈好,那就是『oeuvre』,是有遠景的。我們追求的是美好的日常生活。我們嘗試從希臘帶回來最好的蜂蜜;從法國的Beaujolais地區一個叫Saint Amour的農場,他們生產很好的自然派葡萄酒(vin naturel),我們從那裡進口美味的紅酒;我們透過出版雜誌,介紹巴黎這城市裡所有不能錯過的好東西,用實際的方法去實踐意念。」將得到過的感動也觸動他人,他無所顧忌,也充滿熱情,也讓我思考:我這個人、我這種個性,能夠做得到也做得好的事是什麼?

好讀物讓他們得到過無窮啟發,也讓奇思異想找到了靠岸,Alexandre在二十歲開頭的時候看了人生中最多的書,那樣廢寢忘餐,得以探見更廣闊的世界。經過這麼多年,書店盛載著他們與客人的生活閱歷,成為人生中一個重要場口。

「經營書店,不是說想遇上什麼驚喜,而是面對現實時怎樣將它變成好的東西。那件東西是什麼不重要,重要是那件東西有什麼。」

《OBSCURA》2016年秋冬季號,摘錄了數段在Ofr發生,由書而起的友誼見證。

“Ofr is all about daily life; I don’t want to be a billionaire, nor I want to become famous; I just want to have a great life, but it is such a luxury.”

Armed with the address “20 rue Dupetit Thouars 75003”, I went out in search of the store, and there it was, located in the neighborhood not far from République in Paris. Outside the shop stand two long tables carpeted with books and magazines. At times, a passer-by, attracted by a cover, will halt his step and look curiously around, or a patron who just visited the day before will hang around, as usual, outside its entrance. Peering through the huge glass window, you will see countless readings for visual pleasures, and the furnishings and display inside are all very casual. Here is Ofr, an independent bookstore in France welcoming many book lovers who, lured by its fame, come to hunt for treasures. They come not only because of its unique lineup of books, but also because of its atmosphere of freedom.

Alexandre and Marie, the brother and sister combo running this store, have traveled around the world, and from more than one hundred places they visited, they have collected a range of good stuff which they store in this space. Apart from being a bookstore, it is also a publishing house and an art gallery. Every week, it holds two exhibitions and music gatherings with free admission. Alexandre even lets artists stay in his big house in the southern part of France, so as to let them have more space of freedom for their creative endeavors. You may try to ask him for a key!

“Twenty years ago, we started our business with the word ‘oeuvre’ in mind. Towards the end of your life, when you are still doing something, continuously, we call this ‘oeuvre’. It’s not a piece of artwork or anything. Rather, when you have spent 40 or 50 years doing the same thing, and doing it better and better, it is called ‘oeuvre’. It needs a perspective. So our main focus is good daily life. We tried to bring back the best honey from Greece, and we imported great wine from Beaujolais in France, from a farm called ‘Saint Amour’, which makes the best ‘vin naturel’. Through publishing magazines, we introduce great things not to be missed in Paris. We go practical, putting what we think into practice.” Alexandre tries to share feelings of being touched with others; he has nothing to fear, and he is full of passion; he prompts me to think what I, as a person and with such personality, can do and do it well.

Great readings have not only given them unlimited inspiration, but also supplied an outlet for their strangest thoughts. In his early twenties, Alexandre had devoured the most books in his life. He was so absorbed in reading that it had opened his eyes to a wider world. After so many years, the bookstore has stored up his life experience as well as that of his customers, becoming an important part of their life.

“Running a bookshop is not about stumbling upon any surprises. It’s about facing the reality, and turning it into something good. It doesn’t matter what it is; what really matters is what it contains.”

In OBSCURA’s 2016 Autumn & Winter issue, we have included a few stories about how, at Ofr, books lead on to friendship.

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