Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ballerinas and Books by the Seine

One of my favorite activities in Paris is browsing through what the booksellers have to offer in the weather-beaten green stalls perched above the Seine. A calm weekday, sunshine and a light breeze -- perfect! And today, I even had the luck of finding myself practically toe-to-toe with a ballerina teetering on her pointe shoes for a photo at one of the stalls. It was a typically Parisian moment: Something beautiful, unexpected and a bit strange all at once.

The delight continues as I look through the treasure trove of the "bouquinistes": A mix of classics, contemporary fiction, nonfiction, children's books, French, English… I never know what I'll find as my hands explore the dusty plastic covering many of the volumes.

Sounds great, right? A book lover's dream, right? Yes and yes. But… there's one big problem. My apartment is shrinking as the quantity of books I pack into it grows. Long gone is the lovely organized bookcase. Instead, it's messy and overstuffed with books piled in all directions.

Today, I tell myself I'm strolling by those book stalls just to look. I tell myself I don't need to buy copies of books I've already read. Oohh! I see "Dubliners," which I've wanted to read for a while. My husband reminds me that he (another book junkie) has a copy of it (in English to boot). Then we're both eyeing antique books, some sold at a fraction of the cost found in traditional shops. We have to get out of here!!

But I can't walk away with absolutely nothing. So I fork over a few bills and buy "Cheri" by Colette. OK, so I've already read it, but I do like the leather cover of this edition. And my book fix is satisfied.


  1. Now I am making my list of things to do when I visit in December, visiting these book stalls is definitely on the list, although not sure whether my 10 & 11 year olds will cope with my slow pace!

    1. They have books that your children may enjoy too, as well as cool posters and Paris trinkets. My 3-year-old was ready to leap out of her stroller when she saw "Babar the Elephant" books... Enjoy!!

  2. That all sounds fun, and a great deal better than browsing the damp and dusty shelves at our local Emmaus, which is where the best bargains are. I've certainly never met a ballerina there

  3. The treasure hunt aspect is what I love about it... and being right by the Seine makes it perfect. But I do recommend going during the week if possible because on the weekends it's mobbed. The ballerina really took me by surprise! But I guess that shouldn't have because you see lots of unusual things in Paris!