“A bouquiniste’s stall is a place for trouvailles.” – Umberto Eco
Les bouquinistes… What would Paris be without them?
During my first time in Paris, I met a bouquiniste and it was love at first sight. I was so overwhelmed by the knowledge of this bouquiniste that I left his bookstall with a bag full of books. The bookstalls along the Seine still give me a nostalgic feeling, like I’ve been thrown back in time.
The bouquiniste’s history.
The tradition of the second-hand booksellers began around the 16th century with little market peddlers. They carried their books in leather bags around their necks or had them displayed on tables. It was not until 1859 that the booksellers received permission to permanently attach their green boxes to the quaysides. The selling place of a bouquiniste may not exceed 10.2 square meters.
More than 240 French booksellers own 900 green boxes, where more than 300,000 antiquarian books are for sale. Next to the books, you can find old magazines, stamps, and posters.
Each bouquiniste is given four boxes and the rent is about €100,- a year. Next to the rent, they need to maintain the boxes and keep them looking smart using vert wagon paint which is the color of old train carriages.
Is it your dream to own a green box along the Seine? There’s an eight years’ waiting list.
Since 1991, the bouquinistes have been recognized as part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
You can find the bouquinistes along the Seine, on the left bank of the Quai de la Tournelle to the Quai Voltaire and on the right bank of the Pont Marie to the Quai du Louvre.