As the background of sirens, scooters, and Tour Eiffel are part of the city, the booksellers of Paris, our beloved “bouquinistes” are part of the Parisian fabric of daily life here.
The Paris booksellers tradition began around the 16th century. Under pressure from publishers, a 1649 regulation prohibited portable shops and the display of books on Pont Neuf.
During the Revolution, from 1789 to 1795, only revolutionary newspapers and pamphlets were printed despite a sharp drop in editorial production. The Parisian booksellers prospered (some say from looting libraries of the aristocracy and the clergy.)
Under Napoleon I, the quays were expanded, and booksellers spread from the Quai Voltaire to the Pont Saint-Michel. The bouquinistes were finally recognized by the public authorities and obtained the same status as the general merchants of Paris.
Installed over more than three kilometers along the Seine, they operate around 900 “green boxes” – of a regulated color called “wagon green” (also the same color of the Wallace fountains!).
Certain bouquinistes operators have to pay a concession fee, they do not pay rent, and the permit can be withdrawn at any time by the Paris City Hall. Each stall must be operated at least four days a week, except in bad weather.
I enjoy visiting my neighborhood bouquinistes. One has an African grey parrot, and Pearl is obsessed with him. 🥰 Another holds court in front of the Palais des Beaux-Arts & enjoys a visit with my girls and chat about politics.
If you are traveling here, please stop by and say hi. 99% speak English, even a little bit. And they want your love and support!
Biosus and big hugs from France,