Arts & Entertainment

A new chapter for Paris’ iconic book stalls

Paris, Mar 12 (EFE).- Paris is looking to breathe fresh life into the iconic books stores that line the river Seine in the heart of the city following successive crises that have dealt a blow to business.

The weekly so-called yellow vest protests in 2018 and the Notre-Dame cathedral fire in 2019 already reduced footfall to 230 stalls. Then came the Covid-19 pandemic, which in some cases forced proprietors to close up shop.

In a bid to revitalize the businesses, Paris’ city hall kick-started a program to find bidders for 18 of the stalls, which have their roots in the 16th century.

A record number of 71 bids came in for the bookstalls.

The average age of a stall owner is around 50, although there are some exceptions.

In some cases, the owners are retired and sell books out of a love for literature.

City authorities told Efe they were not in search of a specific profile for the bidders but stressed the importance of clarifying that working a store was not an easy job.

On a wintry Tuesday morning in Paris, few of the stalls along the streets that run down the river, by the Notre-Dame cathedral, are open. But then there are few visitors in the area.

Tourism provides more than half the revenue for the transitional stalls while only a quarter comes from locals, one of the stall-holders tells Efe.

The majority of the stalls open at the end of the week, when there is an influx of visitors.

Indeed, Friday is a different scene altogether. The majority of the stalls are open and are surrounded by customers and curious tourists.

President of the cultural association of book stallholders in Paris, Jerome Callais, told Efe he did not believe that 71 bidders for 18 stalls was in strong demand.

He added that hoped the candidates were “interesting” and had “quality.”

The stalls sell postcards, sketches and paintings but for Callais books are the heart and soul of the trade. EFE


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