Someone recently asked me where to find old prints in plastic sleeves, antique maps of Paris, and other novelties of a Paris long-ago. My first thought was to send her to one of the Marché aux Puces, but it was during a weekday, and I know she preferred to stay central without spending too much of her student budget. I then remembered a recent stroll I took along La Seine, and thought of the green-bin vendors situated above the bank of the river, les bouquinistes. Often Monday through Thursday, many of the green-bins are closed and locked up. They seem so serious when they’re closed, dark and heavy with big metal locks. Who would want to break open such ominous objects; someone unfamiliar with the treasures inside could easily dismiss these bins as technical elements, but once opened one would find that they hold evidence of yesterday’s charms.
It’s likely that I’ve mentioned these before, but after 3 years I found myself re-charmed by their existence. They are a delightful commercial element embellishing the river, coining the term 'the only river in the world that runs between 2 bookshelves'. As a historical staple to scenes of the Seine, these boxes were primarily only used to sell books; Monsieur Hemingway would come to these vendors searching for cheap books in English, but these days one can stroll the Seine and find beautiful botanical prints, old maps, magazines from different eras, Doisneau postcards, and Eiffel tower key chains.