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The Bouquinistes will come together if necessary

Police headquarters have issued a strict order to remove these iconic green boxes used during the festivities, citing security reasons. This decision aroused legitimate concern among the president of the Cultural Association of Bouquinistes de Paris, Jérôme Callais, who is alarmed by the large number of boxes that will have to be destroyed and rebuilt from scratch, estimating that this will be a real " ;massacre" with potentially 200, 300, even 400 boxes affected.

Bookstores Paris
Bookstores Paris

A little history of Parisian second-hand booksellers...

For centuries, Paris's second-hand booksellers have played a unique role in the cultural landscape of the French capital. Their history dates back to the late 18th century, where they were once known as "estaleurs". These "poor booksellers", incapable of running a shop and selling new books, displayed old books along the banks of the Seine and on the Pont-Neuf.

However, this practice was prohibited by several rulings, notably by a decree dated October 20, 1721, under penalty of severe sanctions, up to confiscation, fine and prison. Despite these constraints, the peddlers persisted in their activity and continued to sell books, even if it was done in a more discreet manner.

Over time, second-hand booksellers have managed to establish themselves permanently in the Parisian landscape. Their presence along the banks of the Seine became an iconic feature of the city, offering Parisians and visitors a unique outdoor reading experience. The distinctive green second-hand booksellers' boxes, lined up along the banks, have become a veritable institution, housing a variety of old books, prints, postcards and literary memorabilia.

Their quaint and beloved shops have stood the test of time, surviving periods of unrest, war and social upheaval. Booksellers have witnessed the evolution of Paris, and they have become as much the guardians of a specific history as true cultural ambassadors of the city of lights.

In recognition of their historical and cultural role, bouquinistes were listed as French intangible cultural heritage in 2019. Their preservation and maintenance as living heritage are essential to preserve this unique literary heritage, which continues to attract visitors. ;attention and admiration of visitors from all over the world.

What does Paris City Hall think?Initially, Paris City Hall had considered keeping the boxes on site, sealed and closed seven days before and during the Games, while calling on mine clearance services. Another solution proposed during a consultation meeting on July 10 consisted of moving the boxes to the Olympiades, in the 13th arrondissement, even if this also presented the risk of damaging them. However, these proposals were not accepted by the Paris prefecture.

Following this consultation meeting, book sellers received a questionnaire to express their opinion on the city's proposal. It is clear that the latter was not well received... A bookseller, with a touch of humor, describes the situation by saying that the city wants to "unbox" them, but she still appreciates that their opinion be taken into consideration, as she expressed to Marianne magazine.

A divisive affair that divides be continued...

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