The green boxes of the booksellers are considered heritage objects, Source: Ville de Paris

Paris’ traditional booksellers refuse to move for Olympic Games ceremony

Paris’ traditional booksellers refuse to move for Olympic Games ceremony

There’s a conflict brewing, and the city council is trying to act as an intermediary between the police authorities and the bouquinistes

We are a year away from the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympic Games. The French capital is busy preparing, however, there are some problems and conflicts along the way. The latest of these stems from an order by the police prefecture sent to the traditional booksellers along the Seine River to dismantle their wooden stands and clear out on 26 July 2024, when the ceremony will take place. The book merchants, however, are refusing to comply.

Looks like there’s yet another anti-institutional protest brewing in Parisian society – potentially. Here are the arguments presented by both sides.

The police say that they need the promenades where the booksellers are usually based to be clear for security reasons and to minimize the risk of terrorist attacks. This, however, would mean removing the iconic boxes fastened to the riverside walls, where the sellers display the second-hand books so customers can browse through them.

The removal of said boxes seems to be the biggest sticking point. Jerome Callais, head of the Paris Booksellers' Cultural Association, which represents 88 per cent of bouquinistes (as they are called in French), said they had "no intention of moving", as quoted by The Local.

We're a major symbol of Paris. We've been here for 450 years!" he said.

Also, there seems to be palpable anxiety on the part of the bouquinistes that the authorities will use the ceremony as a pretext to remove them permanently from their spots on the banks of the river.

Will Paris City Hall save the day?

The bouquinistes guild represents some 240 sellers, who make use of 900 green boxes. Their trade can be traced back to the 17th century, and throughout the years their relationship with the authorities has fluctuated – so, in a way that, too, is a bit of a tradition.

The Paris second-hand book market represents the largest of its kind in the world. As such, it has become one of the symbols of the French capital.

That’s why the local government decided to diplomatically intervene in the brewing conflict. The Municipality has offered to cover the costs for the removal of the boxes, as well as the expenses for restoring and refitting them.

What’s more, the city authorities have extended an offer to create a Booksellers Village in a district near the Seine, plus they will propose the book market to be included in UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.

The guild, however, responded that it would cost 1,5 million euros to renovate the wooden boxes. It remains to be seen how this will play out.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU