“Les Bouquinistes” – The Booksellers of Paris
Dating back to the French revolution, “Les Bouquinistes” are outdoor booksellers along the Seine River. Selling books, magazines, ephemera, postcards, art and more, they are one of the most charming parts of Parisian life, and currently number over 200 regular vendors. For over 300 years, they have existed for locals and tourists alike. One is as likely to find bestsellers as vintage pulp, as antiquarian collectibles among the stalls. In exchange for helping to preserve their cultural heritage (and keeping their wares to an agreed-upon minimum 75% books), the city allows the Bouquinistes free use of the lots and exemption from taxes.
I think that’s a fantastic way to ensure Les Bouquinistes remain a charming and unique attraction with a sense of class, and not just another loud tourist trap hawking cheap plastic googaws and whatsits. I’ve never been to Paris, but I imagine that plastic Eiffel Towers, Arc de Triomphe notepaper and French flag toothpicks are plentiful and in no short supply in tourist areas. But the idea of strolling along the Seine River and browsing through stacks of antiquarian titles, engravings, inscribed treasures and more, perhaps to find a one of a kind memorable reminder of my time there sounds like heaven. I hope the French officials continue to ensure the preservation and standards of the stalls.