Paris: River bank booksellers seek World Heritage status

The Local France
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Paris: River bank booksellers seek World Heritage status
Photo: AFP

The booksellers who ply their trade along the banks of the River Seine in Paris are seeking Unesco glory in recognition of their symbolic status in the French capital.


Dotted along the River Seine, the "bouquinistes" of Paris have become a symbol of the French capital and reflect its romance and culture.
And now the 120 booksellers are hoping to secure Unesco World Heritage status under the category of "intangible cultural heritage", a process that can take several years. 
The man behind the move is Jérôme Callais, president of the cultural association of the "bouquinistes" of Paris who has been a bookseller himself for 27 years. 
And he is partly keen to secure the status in order to hold on to the traditions of his trade. 

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At the moment, each seller has four boxes, three reserved for books and one for flea market items.
However, Callais says that recently some sellers have not been respecting the rules and have turned increasingly towards the more profitable trade of selling trinkets rather than books.
He hopes that securing Unesco status would mean a return to the original purpose of the stalls and would see books sold exclusively.  
"It is certain that souvenirs sell more easily than books," said Callais. 
And the veteran bookseller isn't alone in his quest for Unesco glory. 
Mayor of the 6th arrondissement of Paris, Jean-Pierre Lecoq of the Les Republicains party also supports the project.
He hopes that it will create more exposure for the bookstalls, that their boxes will be repainted and that their know-how will be recognized.
So far a request has been made to the French Ministry of Culture which can only apply to Unesco every two years, so the booksellers could be in for a long wait.
The banks of the Seine, on which the second-hand bookstalls are located, were given Unesco World Heritage status in 1991.



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