Lori's Book Nook

Les bouquinistes

Posted on: October 8, 2009

Are you a book lover? A bibliophile? Do you get no greater joy out of life than browsing a used bookstore? Do your knees get weak at the thought of a library book sale?

Have you been to Paris yet?

The Parisiens know books, appreciate books. You’ve probably seen the pictures of the book stalls that line the Seine, in their ubiquitous green carts. These are les bouquinistes, the legendary booksellers of Paris:

They are part of the Paris legend. 217 booksellers spread out their 900 stands along the capital’s 11 quays, which represent a three kilometer walk. The onlookers pass by their sides, rummage through the famous green boxes, buy a book here and there, a poster, a vintage print. But who are these men and women who brave the wind, the cold and the rain? Winter is here, but they are still at the task. Enter into the biggest outdoor bookstore.

The quote above is a translation of an audio piece from La Guinguette — a very good online French journal. I want to put a plug in for them, as they have great products, and the audio is free to listen to. (You can download it if you subscribe.)

This article is a great example. this is not French for the beginner, instead it is the French as it is spoken in the streets. Read this article in the English translation, but also play it, to get the ambient sound of the Paris streets as bouquinistes are interviewed at their stalls.

I can almost picture where each stall is, as it’s described in the article. On our honeymoon, we rented an apartment next to the Seine, on the rive gauche, with green stalls outside our door…

And the French are wonderfully book mad. Here’s a picture of me paying 2 euro for a book at a vending machine:

Another way to access books!

Another way to access books!

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4 Responses to "Les bouquinistes"

Wow! You can purchase a book from a vending machine! This is wonderfully bizarre! I have never seen such a thing. Thank you for sharing this really cool fact and photo.

It was a sheer delight, a joy, to find it! I don’t know how common it is, but is sure was cool! (Thanks for stopping by, Yvette!)

Having gone to Paris many times, i assure you book vending machines are common! Althought mostly used for magazines and small cheap romances!
And i must say that Les bouquiniste is always the best part of any trip to paris for me. Bookstores all over the world are always must sees on my travelling list!

Well, I’m glad to know they’re common! The one i found just made me so happy…Not that I like ‘small cheap romances’!

Thank you for wandering by, Wanting Rain.

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