Chai Shai Chaishai with me

This Parisian book bazaar dates back 450 years. It is now being relocated for ‘security purposes’

For over four and a half centuries, booksellers have engaged in their commercial activities along the banks of the River Seine, with their weathered green boxes becoming an esteemed Parisian tradition, held in similar regard as freshly made baguettes.

However, the current situation surrounding this particular aspect of French history has been a subject of intense political controversy subsequent to the directive issued by the city’s police authorities, mandating the relocation of the sellers and their stalls. This decision was made on grounds of “security reasons,” with the primary objective being to accommodate the forthcoming opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games in 2024.

The current conflict around the fate of book stalls has evolved into a narrative reminiscent of the classic David vs Goliath archetype, akin to the suspenseful second-hand novels available for purchase near the river.

In the present scenario, the individual referred to as “David” is Jerome Callais, who serves as the leader of the Cultural Association of the Bouquinistes. The aforementioned association represents approximately 200 vendors, often recognized as the Bouquinistes.

“Goliath” refers to the prefectural police authority, which is known for its rigid adherence to the renowned French bureaucratic system.

Despite the offer made by the municipal administration to relocate the book stalls and bear the expenses associated with the relocation and renovation of the damaged stalls, Callais expresses apprehension regarding the absence of prior consultation regarding a decision that has significant implications for a renowned Parisian icon.

Callais articulates that the decision was conveyed to his community of booksellers by stating, “Go, you are dismissed.”

According to Callais, he received correspondence from the police in March whereby they assured him of their intention to engage in consultation with the association. However, he did not get any further communication thereafter. Subsequently, in the month of July, the individual states that City Hall organized a gathering wherein numerous unfavorable alternatives were presented.

The individuals initiated the conversation by stating, “It is highly probable that you will be required to cease operations for the entirety of the Games, potentially even one week prior to its commencement.”

According to the individual, a proposed strategy involved maintaining the presence of bookstores’ boxes, but after undergoing police inspection, these boxes would be securely closed for the entirety of the Olympic event. This event is anticipated to draw a substantial number of people to the city, including a significant portion who may potentially peruse the offerings at these booths.

“That elicited a strong negative emotional response,” Callais remarked. The speaker further stated that while no form of compensation was provided for the anticipated mandatory cessation of operations, vendors would, at the very least, have clarity regarding the timeline for resuming their activities.

Future uncertainty

An alternative proposal, which was regarded as more unfavorable by Callais, involved relocating the boxes to a different location. As the author highlights, numerous policies have been implemented for a duration of three to four decades. The majority of these objects exhibit signs of rust, with their locks, folds, canopies, and chains displaying a fragile state.

Additionally, there is apprehension regarding the post-Olympics period.

Will the same spots be made available to us again following the conclusion of the games? Inquired the bookshop, Guillaume Castro, aged 35. For a duration of seven years, he has been engaged in labor along the river, namely operating a stall in close proximity to the Pont des Arts bridge.

Jean-François Medioni, a 53-year-old bookseller with eight years of experience, and proprietor of a stand located on Quai Voltaire, expressed his concern by stating, “That particular issue is where the saddle rubs.” He has a sneaking suspicion that throughout the duration of the Games, the city will have more important things to do than worry about the boxes.

The individual expressed concern on the possibility of either receiving their belongings after a year, potentially never retrieving them, or obtaining items belonging to another individual. According to Castro and Medioni, it would be more advantageous to retain the physical boxes themselves for storage purposes. Both individuals expressed dissatisfaction with the insufficient amount of information provided.

Callais (year) posited that the relocation of the boxes would not only incur significantly higher costs for the capital, but also render a relocated book market unviable.

According to his statement, booksellers are most meaningful when situated along the banks of the Seine. The appeal and cultural significance of the boxes lie in their weathered appearance, characterized by their beautiful variations of green.

If the quays are standardized, rendering them identical in appearance, they will resemble fortified trains. According to his statement, the outcome would be profoundly sorrowful.

Getting approval

The predicament faced by bookshops has garnered political backing. Rachida Dati, the mayor of the 7th arrondissement in downtown Paris, expressed her discontent with the decision, describing it as lacking rationale, being disrespectful, and displaying an unjust nature. This particular district is situated within the Left Bank neighborhood, which is known for its bookshops.

Both the mayor of the 6th arrondissement, Jean-Pierre Lecoq, and another individual, whose gender is unspecified, will advocate for the issue during the upcoming Paris Council meeting in October. Their objective is to argue in favor of a partial closure of the bookshop terrain, accompanied by appropriate compensation measures.

When inquired about the intentions for the boxes, Paris’ City Hall expressed its intention to convene a subsequent meeting to discuss the matter after the summer recess.

In a formal statement, it was expressed that there is a desire to convene a meeting at the commencement of the academic term, in collaboration with the Police Prefecture, in order to provide further discussion and assessment of the aforementioned decision.

There was no representative from the Paris mayor’s office accessible to provide a statement.

In the interim, law enforcement authorities restated their intention to eliminate the boxes due to security concerns, emphasizing that negotiations over the logistics of their removal and subsequent replacement will be conducted.

Callais, nevertheless, expresses optimism that he and his colleagues will be able to conclude this narrative.

According to the individual’s statement, the legal foundation of their stance is not as robust as they assert. We possess a substantial number of additional arguments at our disposal.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button