Art and Paris are forever linked—throughout history, popular culture, and in the minds of most visitors to the French capital. Reproduction posters, postcards, and vintage magazine covers allow tourists to bring home a frame-worthy piece of art history (often by the likes of Gauguin, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec) for a vraiment cheapo price.
Boutique or bouquiniste?
Gifts from museum shops or boutiques can be expensive. So, we suggest looking for inspiration at any of the city’s museums or art galleries, and then purchasing your souvenir posters at a riverside bouquiniste. Similar in look to outdoor newsstands, these green stalls are located along the river Seine and sell vintage magazines and newspapers, as well as old maps of Paris, art reproductions, and French books.
We especially love the colorful turn-of-the-century advertisements for liquor, cigarettes, cocoa, and milk, as well as the cabaret posters of the same era. Most wares will run you less than €10.
The first Seine-side salesmen appeared in the 19th century on quai Voltaire and sold many of the same items you still see sold today. In 1993, President Jacques Chirac created legal standards for the wooden stands. Today, around 250 vendors—bouquinistes—can be found in the city of light. Peppered along the right bank, on Pont Marie, at Quai du Louvre, the left bank, at Quai de la Tournelle, and the original quai Voltaire, they carry cheapo souvenirs in abundance.
Calling all Cheapos: Do you recommend buying souvenirs from a Parisian bouquiniste? Tell us about your experience below, or suggest another cheap Parisian souvenir!
Also see: Our list of recommended budget hotels in Paris.