Olympic Games: Macron cancels plans to relocate Paris' riverside booksellers

French President Emmanuel Macron has abandoned plans to move the famed second-hand bookseller boxes flanking the banks of the Seine that are beloved by tourists.
French President Emmanuel Macron has abandoned plans to move the famed second-hand bookseller boxes flanking the banks of the Seine that are beloved by tourists. Copyright Christophe Ena/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Estelle Nilsson-Julien
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French President Emmanuel Macron has scrapped plans to relocate the bouquinistes – Parisian booksellers on the banks of the Seine – for the 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony.

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Selling used and antiquarian books along the banks of the Seine, the capital's "bouquinistes" are a quintessential part of the city. The city's bouquinistes are now celebrating a victory, as French President Emmanuel Macron announced a U-turn on plans to relocate their book stands for the Olympic Games' opening ceremony.

The Paris 2024 opening ceremony will mark a break from tradition – for the first time a Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony will take place outside of a stadium – this time along the Seine.

In a statement shared by the Elysée, President Macron asked France's interior minister and Paris police “to ensure that all booksellers are preserved and that none of them be forced to move”. The bouquinistes of the Seine are an example of the “living heritage of the capital”, added Macron.

Bouquinistes famed green book "boxes" serve as a display shelf in the day and allow sellers to lock up their goods at night. However, last summer authorities raised security concerns around the boxes being used to conceal explosive devices during the opening ceremony.

This led local authorities to order the dismantling and relocating of approximately 570 book boxes – which represents almost 60% of their total presence along the river banks. Book box dismantling tests were even carried out in November.

Around 200 bouquinistes work in France's capital and for many of them the latest announcement comes as a relief.

"For the last seven months we have put all our energy into campaigning against the decision to relocate us, this outcome comes as a relief," Pascal Corseaux, Vice-President of the Paris Association of Bouquinistes told Euronews Culture shortly after the announcement.

In recent years, bouquinistes have increasingly struggled to make ends meet, impacted by a lack of tourists during the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.

Bouquinistes were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and are now facing the cost of living crisis.
Bouquinistes were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and are now facing the cost of living crisis.Michel Spingler/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved

“We hope to make good business from the Olympic Games, many of us are already in difficult financial situations. We understand that we may not be able to trade on the day of the ceremony and in the immediate run up – but we don't want our stands moved” added Corseaux.

The Paris Olympic Games' opening ceremony is a highly ambitious one – with over 10,500 athletes from 206 delegations set to parade along the Seine – while hundreds of thousands of eager spectators will watch from either side.

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