Archive for November 26th, 2019

November 26, 2019

Notre Dame and the Bouquinistes!

Who has not come to Paris and stop by the book stalls along the Seine river near the Notre Dame Cathedral? This is essential Paris and we have been here since 1990, in fact I still have book and frame portraits of what we purchase from them!

It is one of the wonderful walks and knowledge trip you can make in Paris and oh talk to them , they love it and will tell you many stories. I was by there again why not! and got into the Notre Dame Cathedral so sad to see in its current condition! Let me tell you a bit more about it and the wonderful Bouquinistes!


The bouquinistes of Paris are booksellers of old and used books, present on a large part of the banks of the Seine; on the right bank, from the Pont de Marie to the quai du Louvre; on the left bank, from the quai de la Tournelle to the Quai Voltaire. More than 200 booksellers manage nearly 900 boxes on the banks of the Seine !!!



The term “bouquinistes” appears in the Dictionary of the French Academy in the 1762 edition with the following definition and graphic: “The one who sells or buys old books” The tradition of Parisian booksellers begins around the 16C with small peddlers. Under pressure from the booksellers’ corporation, a by-law of 1649 forbade portable shops and the display of books on the Pont Neuf. The power at the time was keen to limit parallel markets not subject to censorship. Traveling booksellers are therefore, depending on the period, hunted and then reinstated under approval.

During the French revolution, from 1789 to 1795, in spite of a sharp decline in editorial production, only revolutionary newspapers and pamphlets were printed, and second-hand booksellers prospered and enriched themselves with the requisitions and plunderings of libraries of the aristocracy and the clergy. Under Emperor Napoleon I, the quays are embellished and the booksellers spread from the quai Voltaire to the Pont Saint-Michel bridge. They are then finally recognized by the public authorities and they obtain the same status as the public traders of the city of Paris.

In 1859, concessions were put in place by the city of Paris and booksellers could establish themselves at fixed points. Everyone is then entitled to 10 meters of parapet for an annual license fee. Openings are from sunrise to sunset. Finally, it is in 1930 that the dimensions of the boxes are fixed.  However, if the sale of books remains the official name, these boxes have always traditionally offered other items: prints, stamps, coins and small flea markets, or even souvenirs. In 2014, second-hand booksellers launch their first festival. Fifty booksellers came together to present their best selections of old and second-hand books.


The tourist office of Paris on the BouquinistesTourist office of Paris on the Bouquinistes in English

A further discussion on the reconstruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris. See my previous posts on the reconstruction efforts.

It is told that to date, 39 different companies are working on the site. Among the trades represented, there are masons, locksmiths, crane operators, scaffolders, sculptors, glass masters, analysis laboratories, safety and security agents, depollution specialists, …. Since the site was restarted in August, the decontamination facilities have been able to accommodate about 80 companions simultaneously. New decontamination facilities will allow from January 2020 to accommodate up to 240 workers.

As part of this vast operation to clean up polluted areas, a security perimeter will be established again, resulting, according to the Paris police headquarters, in the modification of traffic security rules in this sector. The rue d’Arcole between n ° 19 and rue du Cloître de Notre-Dame , and the Rue du Cloître de Notre-Dame from the no 16 to the rue d’Arcole, and the pedestrian path along the Hôtel Dieu on the forecourt side of Notre Dame, between the rue d’Arcole and the alley of the rue de la Cité, will be affected by these restrictions.

Nevertheless, according to the Le Parisien newspaper, the monument is “still in danger”. However, in six months time, architects, technicians and craftsmen managed to consolidate two-thirds of the cathedral. Among the works evoked, the installation of metal tie rods on the nave, the realization of a cover hat above the roof to ensure the water tightness of the site, and especially, the dismantling of the scaffolding still in place. A delicate operation that should last between four and five months.

In 6 months, under the management of the project management delegated to the DRAC, the action of the management team with the companies made it possible to advance decisively on several points, such as:

Consolidation of the gables of the north and south braces and the western gable;  consolidation by hooping and then removing the chimeras located at the northeast corner of the south tower;  tarping high vaults;  hooping of the two pillars of the ruined nave; protection of the wish of Louis XIII against the possible falls of materials; removal and evacuation of the “Virgin with the Pillar”; laying nets under the vaults of the nave, choir and transept; removal of stained glass windows and grooving of the high bays of the nave and choir; removal of ground rubble by robots in connection with the Historic Monuments Research Laboratory (LRMH), the Regional Department of Archeology of the DRAC and the scientific police (carried out to date at about 80%);arches of the choir, the nave on the north side (completed), the nave on the south side  and around the crossing of the transept (coming soon) ;  laying a floor leaning on the drop-shaped walls above the high vaults of the nave, the choir and the two transepts; Inspection of gargoyles in the basket.

Site installations have gradually been put in place on the site, including: setting up a security guard 24 hours a day, the installation of a fence all around the construction area, the creation of a traffic lane on the periphery of the monument, the creation of a base-life zone, the use of locker rooms, decontamination units and 3 approach locks, and the deployment of barnums on the forecourt to store the evacuated rubble (wood, stone, metal).

paris notre dame cat under repairs nov19

Future work to be done include:

Removal of rubble located on the upper surface of the vaults in liaison with the scientific police and the regional archeology department of the DRAC;  cleaning the vaults to start the diagnosis;  deployment of a construction site SSI; Implementation of metal tie rods to stabilize the nave; and dismantling of the scaffold stuck at the transept crossing, this one still weighing on the building a risk of collapse. Sensors were installed to monitor the movements and ensure the safety of the site and residents.

The official wonderful webpage of Notre Dame CathedralOfficial Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris

There you go folks, a beauty of a walk even if not advisable to get close to Notre Dame even if not barricaded due to still traces of lead. A walk along the Seine river and the wonderful bouquinistes is a must while in Paris. Hope you enjoy the tour.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



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