|Setting up for the day|
These booksellers have been a part of the Parisian landscape almost as long as the invention of the printing press . They first peddled their wares in wheelbarrows, but in the late 1800s the government granted the bouquinistes permanent legal status. Today the iconic dark green metal boxes line the sidewalks on both sides of the Seine near Notre Dame.
There is an extensive waiting list to receive an official license - approximately 8 years. But for a book lover like myself, I would say it is well worth the wait.
|not yet open for business|
While the Parisian government dictates bouquinistes may only sell books - the continual decline in consumer reading has slightly modified these restrictions. To help with profit margins, one of the boxes may now be used to sell popular souvenirs.
There are more than two hundred bouquinistes in the approximate one square mile area. Bouquinistes are required to open their stalls a minimum of four days a week, but the hours seem to vary from person to person. Opening and closing up shop is convenient and easy, as the merchandise remains on site and locked within.
I don't shop the bouquinistes to find a bargain (although there might be literary treasures to discover), I go instead for the uniquely Parisian experience: to leisurely walk the historic streets along the most famous river in the most cosmopolitan city surrounded by the simple comfort of books.