If you have just a few hours in Paris, you can get a very full Paris experience if you do the following:
- Get up and grab a coffee,
- Grab a fresh croissant,
- Take an outdoor stroll along the Seine River from the Louvre, to Notre Dame Cathedral, over to Shakespeare & Company, and back.
As you make this refreshing, delicious walk, – which can be done in a couple of hours – you’ll see some of the greatest sights Paris has to offer. You’ll also be walking through a great Paris experience: the riverside market.
This market has been around for hundreds of years, and is most recognizable from the large green boxes/kiosks that the vendors operate. These boxes line the banks of the Seine River at street level from sunrise to sunset, most every day. Depending on where you are standing, the green boxes can stretch for as far as you can see.
The “bouquinistes”, as the vendors are called, primarily sell books from their individual stands. Many are vintage books, sometimes with first editions mixed in, and lots of them are in French. You’ll also find various souvenirs of Paris at the market, like posters, postcards, stamps, and of course Eiffel Towers in miniature.
By most accounts, prices at the market are reasonable. This is partially because many of the books are used, but also because the overhead for the vendors is low – much lower than a brick-and-mortar bookstore.
The market also attracts artists selling prints and paintings. Buyer’s note: If you are looking for an original painting, make sure you see the artist’s brush touch the canvas. Sometimes, an easel will be set up just for show, and you are actually buying a print rather than a painting. Either way, it’s still a beautiful picture.
If you are looking for an indoor book-buying experience, check out Shakespeare & Company at the East end of the riverside market on the Left Bank of the river (by the Saint Michel Metro stop). Shakespeare and Company is a popular Paris stop, and often hosts book signings by current day Authors. Open seven days a week, 10 am to 11 pm.
The riverside market is free to attend, as is the walk along the Seine River and the views within it.