He smiles broadly as I take his photo before the iconic green box along the River Seine. Gerard is a bouquiniste, a bookseller in Paris, a tradition since the 16th century.

Now protected by UNESCO as part of French cultural heritage, bouquinistes sell rare editions, magazines, tourists takeaways, and collectors' items from their stands – used as covert letterboxes by the French resistance during the war.

The new pension reform is impacting Gerard and his family. These boxes must be open at least four days a week, and the owner of each book stand must personally operate their stall at least three days a week, rain, shine, snow, or heatwave. On other days, a family member like Gerard can step in and help out.

The average annual net revenue of a bouquiniste is 18,720€ per year.
Or, in today's exchange rate,
16,414 GBP
20,082 USD
27,463 CAD
30,061 AUD

Gerard and I chat about my work and my love for his country. We talk about my travels and I share a common sentiment, "La France est tout simplement incroyable. Si vous conduisez votre voiture pendant trente minutes, vous découvrirez une culture, une topographie, une cuisine, une histoire et des gens différents."

France is just incredible - You drive your car for thirty minutes, and you'll discover a different culture, topography, cuisine, history, and people.

Gerard eyes me carefully, nodding his head in agreement, and quietly says, "You are lucky. Many French cannot afford to travel as you do."

According to figures from INSEE, the average salary in France in 2023 is around 2,587 euros net per month or 39,800 euros gross per year.

The country has some of the highest tax rates in the world, a whopping 45% top marginal rate.

It is a goal of mine to offer my books and guides in French too, and as I smile gently at Gerard, squeeze his arm, and as I walk away, I vow to make it a priority.

See links for info about the pension reform & bouquinistes, SVP.


2023 French pension reform strike info:,62%20to%2064%20years%20old


Want to be a ‘bouquiniste’? Tough time for Paris booksellers prompts search for new recruits:


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