What is a bouquiniste? A closer look at the iconic Paris booksellers

Hi everyone!

I recently got a listener email asking for more information about the Paris bouquinistes. Who are they? What do they do? What’s their story?

Well, the first bit is easy. A bouquiniste is a bookseller who typically sells antique and second hand books in the iconic green stalls along the river Seine in Paris.

The booksellers have been around for centuries and today their stalls run for kilometres along the river – on both sides. In fact, many people say the Seine is the only river in the world that runs between two bookshelves.

But anyone can find that information on the internet. I wanted to actually get the story from the source. I wanted to speak to a bouquiniste.

I decided to take my microphone down to the river and to walk the stalls, chatting with the bouquinistes until I found someone who’d share their story.

And after a few failed efforts, I stumbled upon a very interesting woman indeed – Los Angeles-native Sydney Zekley. She must be one of the only non-French people running one of the stalls and she certainly had some good insights and stories.

She is the guest of this week’s podcast episode. We talk about bouquinistes, of course, but also Hells Angels, how to buy books in Paris, and the importance of saying hello in France.

Listen below and be sure to subscribe for more episodes like this.

If you want to find Sydney, her stall is very close to the southern side of the Pont de la Tournelle bridge. Say hi from me.

Oh yes, and if you like reading books, especially books with a connection to Paris and France, you should join my book club. More info here.

New episode: Here's a chat with Sydney Zekley, one of the booksellers from along the River Seine.

And lastly, thanks to the sponsor of this episode, French Today. If you want to use their audiobooks to learn French, visit their site via this specific link to get a further ten percent off your purchase.

2 thoughts on “What is a bouquiniste? A closer look at the iconic Paris booksellers

  1. ahhh, bookstores with used stores. one of the best books on my shelf come from them. thank you for a nice topic. 🇫🇷📚

  2. I just went back to find this episode after I think hearing about it while listening to your audiobook. Love this one. When I was 16, I bought a playboy off a bouquiniste. This took me back!

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