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The iconic booksellers along Paris’ Seine River are refusing to move their stalls to make way for the Olympic Games ceremony taking place in the French capital next year, the Local France reported.
Paris officials sent a letter to the 200 booksellers along the river – known as “bouquinistes” – ordering their relocation in preparation for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Organizers are expecting more than 600,000 people to attend the opening ceremony taking place on the Seine. Police also want to form a perimeter in the area to ensure the security of a “place or event exposed to a risk of acts of terrorism.”
But the plan will see the dismantling of almost 570 stalls – about 60 percent of the bouquinistes’ boxes. The booksellers have resisted such orders, saying that the move threatens to erase a symbol of Paris – which is also Europe’s largest open-air book market.
Jérôme Callais, president of the Paris booksellers’ association, said their boxes on the riverbank are as important as the most iconic landmarks of the city.
“We’re a major symbol of Paris – we’ve been here for 450 years,” he told France24. “To want to erase us from the landscape when the celebration of these Games should be a celebration of Paris seems a bit crazy.”
City authorities have offered to pay for the removal and reinstallation of boxes, as well as cover any repairs. Proposed solutions for book dealers include participating in a “Village des bouquinistes” near the Seine.
However, Callais said the suggested location, the Place de la Bastille, is impractical and claimed no compensation has been offered.