Paris bouquinistes: selling second-hand books along the Seine

Paris bouquinistes: selling second-hand books along the Seine.

Along the banks of the river Seine in Paris, the bouquinistes continue to sell second-hand books, just as they have done since the 19thcentury when the city permitted booksellers to have a permanent location.

Closed and locked at night, the typically green boxes sit on top of the parapet along a portion of the Right Bank and the Left Bank of the river Seine — for a length of about three kilometres. Open during the day, the boxes contain books, posters, cards, magazines, comics, prints, stamps, and papers. Their owners can choose when to open, because there are no specific ‘open’ hours – they can be open anytime from sunrise to sunset.

Since 1930, the government set strict regulations about the size, colour, and weight of the bouquiniste boxes. Each bouquiniste has a length of less than 9 metres for which they pay an annual fee to the city. Each box is identical and green. The length is 2 metres and the width is 0.75 metres to enable pedestrian access to the pavement. When open the upper edge of the box should not be more than 2 metres above the ground.

There are about 240 registered bouquinistes with 900 bouquiniste boxes. The bouquinistes of the Seine are now a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

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