Did you know that the 900 green book boxes that sit atop the walls that line the Seine River in Paris have UNESCO status?
Known as the Bouquinistes of Paris (booksellers of Paris) along the banks of the River Seine is where you’ll discover second-hand and specialist antiquarian books of all kinds.
Between the Quai du Louvre down to the Pont Marie on the Right Bank of the Seine and between Quai de la Tournelle and Quai Voltaire on the Left Bank is where you will find these unique book stores that live in a row of green boxes.
The uniform sight of the boxes filled with hundreds of thousands of books, souvenirs and posters is one of the charms of Paris. Their construction is strictly controlled (2 metres long. 0.75 metres wide. Higher at the front to allow customers to look in, shorter at the back where they hang over the River Seine.
Second-hand book sellers have plied their trade in this part of Paris for some 500 years and are known to have been there in the 16th century. In 1859, concessions were implemented by the city of Paris and the bouquinistes were permitted to set up their “stalls” at fixed points and allowed to trade from sunrise to sunset.
Along this stretch Ernest Hemingway and countless other writers have strolled to peruse the books or even to look for their own work in the dark green boxes clamped firmly on the walls. It is said that there are at least 300,000 books for sale along the stretch of river where these literary entrepreneurs are to be found daily.
In 1992 the river banks of the Seine with the Bouquinistes of Paris were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is said that the River Seine is ‘the only river in the world that runs between two bookshelves”.