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Paris cheap souvenir: Art posters and vintage books

Posted in: Paris Shopping

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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.

Souvenir savoir-faire

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.

We’ve also got a post on 5 gift ideas for less than €5 for some more souvenir tips.

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.

About the author

Kari Hoerchler

En junio 2000, Kari moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina and never looked back...until she ran out of pesos. After another round of bank riots, the travel lady bug moved to more stable financial ground: Wall Street. (Hey, no laughing!) Currently the Listings Manager for Over There Interactive for cold, hard cash, she is also a co-author of The Maneater Murder Mystery Series and Venue Goddess for Lit Crawl NYC.

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10 thoughts on “Paris cheap souvenir: Art posters and vintage books”

  1. Pingback: The Seine | Brendan Linard

  2. I found the best Rene Gruau (my favorite french artist/graphic designer) prints for virtually nothing at these stands in Paris. Way better and cheaper than ebay :)…and so fun when you discover them in the piles of stuff.

    Reply
  3. Michelle St. Clair

    If you really want the most inexpensive souvenir (as in FREE), be charming and simply ask for an art gallery poster at a restaurant or other shop on the Left Bank or near Notre Dame. Be sure to look first at the date of the exhibition advertised on the poster. If it has ended, they will be more likely to let you have it. It is a fitting souvenir that will even be close to the date you were visiting.

    The other Free thing I was shown in Paris was the sight from atop the Arabic du Monde building on the Left Bank side across the bridge from the back of Notre Dame. The windows have apertures that regulate light/heat into the building. Just walk in and take the elevator up to the restaurant but go to the door that will take you to the roof instead. Marvelous view.

    Reply
  4. When I was there, those were the best places to pass by and just shop at your leisure….the awesome stuff you can find if you’re a picker and its also authentic at a much lower price…it was so cool ;)

    Reply
  5. I bought a original pen and ink drawing on the street for 15 Euros. I love it!. It was at one of the bouquinistenear near Notre Dame. Also bought a stone gargoyle for 10 Euros which are a lot more in the stores.

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  6. I also love to head into places like Shakespeare Book Co., buy a cheap book, and get it stamped with the store’s logo. I love opening a book back home and seeing the insignia, knowing I purchased it right near Notre Dame.

    http://www.shakespeareco.org/

    Reply
  7. I totally agree! Those cheap posters are everywhere in Paris. I bought one just a few blocks from the Louvre for well under €10.

    Reply

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