Les Bouquinistes de Paris are riverside open-air booksellers of used and antiquarian books, who have been plying their trade along large sections of the banks of the Seine since the 16th century.
Easily identifiable to their green boxes – which are part of the tourist iconography of Paris – the 240 Bouquinistes sell some 500,000 old books and a great number of journals, prints (original and copies), engravings, posters, postcards, stamps, pictures, and trading cards.
Spreading along more than two miles on both sides of the river Seine – on the left bank from the Quai Voltaire to the Quai de la Tournelle, and on the right bank from the Pont Marie to the Quai du Louvre – the 900 green boxes of the Bouquinistes are a part of the Parisian landscape and cultural heritage, adding to the charm of the Seine riverbanks. Bouquinistes are truly timeless, fixed in time, as once were their Parisian ancestors. In fact, the Seine is sometimes described as ‘the only river in the world that runs between two bookshelves’.
From a rare 1649 edition of the “Virgile travesti en vers burlesques” by Paul Scaron (1200€) to original copies and re-edition of Saint-Exupéry, Zola, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire with leather binding, Parisian Bouquinistes mainly sell books from French authors, and written in French. Nevertheless, it is possible to find books in English, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian or Spanish. Books sold by the Bouquinistes cover all kinds of topics: Art books, literature, fine Arts, history, science, philosophy, psychology, sociology.
As with flea market merchants, it is recommended to haggle with Bouquinistes, particularly since the second-hand book market has been experiencing a downward trend since 2013 (mainly because e-reader have become mainstream).