Monday, June 20, 2011

Lille Book Market

Young and old people walked about quietly through the courtyard and the passages around it, rummaging through old books and secondhand magazines, old photographs, posters and records. For us, it was a different book landscape than we were used to. The graphics were different, the text was different. Here and there in-between was a text that was familiar, an artist’s work that you had read about before or seen earlier.


This Book Market in the Vieille Bourse (Old Stock Exchange) Courtyard in Lille, France was really so charming a place and it is something that happens every day of the year. It was part of our one-day walking tour through Lille and we were told it had only French books and nothing much else! But then, as we walked into this heritage building with its interesting architectural details, we did want to just be here for a while.


Soon I picked up a black and white poster of a cafĂ© in Brazil. We then talked to the Bookseller who had sold me the poster. I learnt from a Dutch colleague that he was perhaps of Algerian origin, that Algeria was one of France’s longest held overseas territories, with French Algeria lasting from 1830 to 1962. The Bookseller had a lot to tell us and I couldn’t understand a word since I didn’t know French! I did get to hear the translation and wished that there was a universal language for people from all the many different parts of the world!

Here's something else I learnt from my Dutch colleague: "Secondhand book markets in France are quite common, for example from the stalls along the Seine in Paris. In Holland, you won’t find too much secondhand book markets, in shops, yes. The main exception are the secondhand markets at ‘Koninginnedag’, when the Queen's birthday is celebrated. Then, all of a sudden the whole country seems to be mad about secondhand things and everybody is selling all stuff accumulated during the last year."

We saw a plaque at the entrance to the Bourse building that read: “In the year 1651, the Town of Lille obtained from Philippe IV of Spain permission to build on public land ‘a stock exchange’ to be used by merchants and to be enclosed and surrounded by 24 houses. The town of Lille sold to 24 traders the plots located on the marketplace and paid for the construction of the galleries, the paving of the inside yard and the four gates. This building was completed in 1653 and the architect was Julien Destree. The stock exchange is a fine addition to Lille architecture and a credit to the enthusiasm and energy of its citizens”

We had come into the courtyard in the morning soon after we had arrived in Lille and had just rushed through it on our way to the Palais des Beaux Arts. And now, as we returned to it in the evening, it was outside still drizzling sometimes, and sunny sometimes, but in the courtyard, nothing seemed to have changed – the books and the posters amidst the slow footsteps, including our own.

Read about:
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8 comments:

Meena Venkataraman said...

Made such a intresting read :).
do you get to haggle (the way you do in the second book bazaars back home)? Asked cause I ante'd to get some insights into the cultural nuances , the dos and donts of places such as there

Indian Bazaars said...

Meena: There were placards with fixed prices written on them. For example, the place where I picked up the B&W poster of a Cafe in Brazil, it said 5 euros. I didn't try to bargain, maybe I should have! I asked someone about it today here in the Netherlands and learnt that bargaining is unusual in Western Europe, but if it happens, it would be in places like this!

Nisha said...

Have stayed in Lille for sometime but I think I missed this market.

And, Meena has asked very good question. Cultural differences? :)

A Girl said...

Your blog is brilliant, you write great !

I will keep reading your site to inspire my French Blog

wwww.visitbeautifulfrance.blogspot.com/

Keep up the great writing !!

Anjali said...

Hi Kiran looks like you are traveling again. Nice read. I came back to Mumbai and will be here for the next few weeks. Hoping to catch up with you soon.

David Bennett said...

Lovely photos.

We are planning a trip to Lille and up to Brussels, and it is good to see photos of the center of Lille.

Indian Bazaars said...

Nisha: The informal social exchanges that can happen in Indian marketplaces amongst people are less common here.

A Girl: Thanks.

Anjali: Thanks for dropping by.

David: Thanks. I am hoping to put up a second blogpost on Lille shortly. It was such a lovely place.

Ms.N said...

haven't been bloghopping much in the recent past... lovely that u are travelling through Europe. sometimes, the lesser known towns are much more interesting with their relaxed pace, and absence of crowds.

i thought i may have had enough of europe, but now i want to go back :D