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Last on

Sun 15 Aug 2010 13:30 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 22 June 2010

Paris has many grand monuments dominating its skyline, but for regular visitors to the 'city of light' there is a sight every bit as ingrained into its terroir as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Sacre Coeur - that of the riverside booksellers who for centuries have plied their trade on the banks of the River Seine. Les Bouquinistes can count Presidents (including Mitterand and Thomas Jefferson) as regular customers, and boast a proud history of providing a source of literatures thought subversive to the prevailing authorities of the day. More recently, many have branched out from books to supplement their income, offering plastic souvenirs instead of Balzac, plastic tat in place of Monserrat - a practice the city council, worried about tarnishing the image of playground Paris, has fought against. In 'The Paris Bouquinistes' Kirsty Lang takes a long stroll along the Seine to meet some of the current crop and discover how confident they feel about the future prosperity of their time-honoured trade.


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