What is a bouquiniste ?

Old Parisian profession known throughout the world, the functioning of Paris’ bouquinistes remains rather unknown. Focused for several years on a tourist economy, the bookseller remains fundamentally a second-hand bookseller, and contributes to making the banks of the Seine the largest open-air bookstore in the world. If you want to better understand and discover the men and women behind the postcard, this little manual will answer all your questions. 

3 km of second-hand bookstores on the banks of the Seine

The second-hand booksellers and their famous “green boxes” stretch for a little over 3 km on both banks of the Seine. Right bank, from Pont Marie to Quai du Louvre, left bank from Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire. By following the flow of the river, of course!

All the book sellers are independent, selected by the Paris town hall on application form. They are given a vacant space, on which they can place a set of four boxes with merchandise. The boxes belong to the bookseller, who must take care of them throughout his activity. Simply placed on a parapet, they are a subtle balance of strength and fragility that must be preserved when spring arrives.

As for opening hours, they fluctuate… The job of bookseller also involves finding merchandise and sorting it before bringing it to the docks, which takes time! Whatever day of the year, whether it’s windy or raining, you will always find a bouquiniste open.

Although he is primarily a second-hand bookseller, some have turned to the sale of tourist products, particularly around major places such as the Île de la Cité or the Louvre. An image that tends to tarnish the reputation of this old profession. Each corporation, even the most influential, has its flaws… The vast majority of second-hand book sellers remain faithful to tradition and, if you take the time, you will find superb books and objects during your strolls!

An invitation to take the time

Discovering the second-hand booksellers of Paris remains above all a stroll. An invitation to take the time. You never know in advance what you will find there. If the majority of book sellers are specialists in their field, it is difficult to know without having looked through the boxes a little or talked with the owner. Strolling often invites you to meet…

Literature, music, sport, history, travel, gastronomy, comics, youth… All fields are represented on the banks of the Seine! And are aimed at both collectors and occasional enthusiasts. If you are primarily looking for books, the Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville (where I am :)), the Quai de Gesvres and the Quai de la Mégisserie are to be discovered on the right bank. The vast majority of docks on the left bank also offer quality merchandise.

Useful Informations

An old parisian profession which offers a pleasant stroll on the banks of the Seine all year round. Right bank from Pont Marie to Quai du Louvre, left bank from Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire.

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