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Macron renounces the movement of second-hand booksellers from the quays of the Seine

Photo: Miguel Medina Agence France-Presse “We are all very happy and we thank the president, who understood that we were the soul of Paris,” rejoiced the president of the Cultural Association of Booksellers of Paris.

Francesco Fontemaggi – Agence France-Presse and Thomas Gropallo – Agence France-Presse in Paris

February 13, 2024

  • Europe

After months of controversy, French President Emmanuel Macron intervened in the debate and decided to maintain the second-hand booksellers established since the 17th century on the banks of the Seine in Paris despite the opening ceremony Olympic Games this summer.

“Noting that no consensual and reassuring solution could be identified with these actors”, the Head of State “asked the Minister of the Interior and the Paris Police Prefect that all second-hand booksellers be preserved , and that none of them is forced to be displaced,” the presidency said.

According to his entourage, the Head of State is showing them “his attention considering that it is a living heritage of the capital”.

“We are all very happy and we thank the president, who understood that we were the soul of Paris,” rejoiced the president of the Cultural Association of Booksellers of Paris, Jérôme Callais , joined by AFP.

Emmanuel Macron “asked that the security system be adapted accordingly, the spaces concerned on the high platforms being therefore no longer likely to accommodate the public during the ceremony”, according to the Élysée Palace.

This upcoming decision had already been taken into account in the gauge of the opening ceremony, revised downwards at the end of January to around 300,000 spectators, assured a source close to the matter.

“Our resistance has borne fruit,” exulted Albert Abid, a book seller for ten years, to AFP, emphasizing that “moving these boxes was touching a living memory of Paris.” .

“I’m so happy […] beyond technical considerations, we don’t touch the books, it always ends badly for the people! “, exclaimed Laura Galidie, 42, a bookseller and actress near the Pont des Arts, contacted by AFP. “We also have a human role with the people we inform, it was a shame to take that away.”

End of a “nightmare”

At the end of July 2023, bookstores were informed that for security reasons, several hundred boxes of books installed on the platforms would have to be temporarily moved a few days before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, on July 26 on the Seine.

This measure caused weeks of battle between authorities, notably the police headquarters and the town hall, and second-hand booksellers, who tirelessly pleaded for their boxes to remain in place.

Nearly 130 booksellers, out of some 180 members of the Cultural Association of Booksellers of Paris, decided in January to take “legal action to the administrative court” to contest the dismantling.

They intended to ask for the “non-removal” of the boxes or, “as a last resort”, compensation and “dignified and respectful treatment” of their small open-air bookstores, listed as French intangible cultural heritage, the first step in a possible recognition as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Book sellers had also appealed to Emmanuel Macron.

Francis Robert, a bookseller for 43 years, explained to AFP in November that he had met the Head of State during his visit to the docks the previous month. “He told us ‘I know about it, I defend you, you are part of Paris’. But he is superior to the prefect, he can tell him to make us stay,” emphasized this bookseller.

Faced with their revolt, the police headquarters took a step towards the second-hand booksellers by agreeing to “sacrifice certain areas” which should therefore not be open to the public.

With this proposal, 428 boxes instead of 604 had to be dismantled, “or less than half (47%)” of the 932 stowed at the quays of the Seine, according to the prefecture.

Despite this concession, the situation was at an impasse: “we were on our position and the prefecture on its own,” Mr. Callais explained on Tuesday, specifying that the legal action was not more news.

“We will all sleep normally after seven months of nightmare,” he rejoiced.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116