Transcript for Episode 455: France for Bookworms

Category: French Culture

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 455 – quatre cent cinquante-cinq.

[00:00:22] Annie Sargent: Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France, everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy, and news related to travel to France.

Today on the podcast

[00:00:36] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a conversation with my friend Elyse Rivin of Toulouse Guided Walks about the best bookstores in France and the places bookworms would love in France. We’ll also do an episode about libraries at a different time. This one is on bookstores, and you may remember that episode 371 of this podcast was about the famous bookstore in Paris, Shakespeare and Company, I think that’s the one all English-speaking people talk about.

[00:01:04] Annie Sargent: But there are many more, as you’ll hear today, even some that sell books in English.

Podcast supporters

[00:01:10] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my Itinerary Consult Service and my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app. And you can browse all of that at my boutique

[00:01:28] Annie Sargent: And if you don’t know about my tours and you want to read the details, read the reviews, go to and it’ll redirect you.

The Magazine part of the podcast

[00:01:38] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast, after my chat with Elyse, since it’s August, and this is a slow news month, I’ll talk a little bit of this and a little bit of that, including a little bit about the Olympics coming up and also how to pay for medical services in France, should you need any. This has come up again and so I wanted to mention it.


[00:02:08] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Elyse.

[00:02:09] Elyse Rivin: Bonjour Annie.

[00:02:10] Annie Sargent: We are going to talk about something that I’m titling, France for Bookworms.

[00:02:16] Elyse Rivin: Yes. France for Bookworms.

[00:02:18] Annie Sargent: We’re going to talk about a lot of different places in France where people who love books would be very, very happy.

[00:02:24] Elyse Rivin: France is, and it always amazes me as long as I’ve lived here, France is a country that has an enormous number of bookstores. And it is a fact that in France bookstores are opening all the time, not closing, which is really remarkable. That is, there are obviously some bookstores that close, but considering what is happening in general in the world with online buying and Kindle and all of that, it is remarkable to know that in France there are bookstores that open all the time and bookstores stay in business in France.

[00:03:02] Elyse Rivin: And I like books a lot. So as you know, my house is about to sink under the earth because it has got so many books in it, so this is really kind of a fun thing to talk about.

[00:03:15] Annie Sargent: Yes. So I had a lot of books. Growing up I collected books. This was one of the few things that my parents were very blue collar and did not spend a lot of money on anything. They would buy me a book. If I asked for a book, they would buy me the book, so it was always a treat.

[00:03:32] Annie Sargent: I was a bookworm in terms of going to the lending library and things like that. But it’s true that since moving back from the US, I have stopped buying paper books so much because I don’t know where to put them anymore.

[00:03:47] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:03:47] Elyse Rivin: Yeah, I mean, I do understand, and of course I do read a lot of my, like, mystery stories and things on my Kindle because I figure, well, those I can read and then just sort of erase them. Whoop. It’s sort of a magic of electronics, but I still have this deep, deep, deep affection for books. And I have to say that it never ceases to astound me that in France, one of the things that people give to each other at Christmas time is books. And bookstores, like chocolate shops, do the best business that they have around Christmas time.

[00:04:21] Annie Sargent: That’s probably true in America as well, don’t you think?

[00:04:24] Elyse Rivin: I would really strongly doubt it. And of course the other thing is, and that’s one of the things we’re going to talk about today, is that we’re not going to talk about the chain stores that of course, have other things as well. This is independent, privately-owned bookstores.

[00:04:38] Annie Sargent: Right. We have a lot of them and there are definitely places in Paris and in the rest of France where when you visit, you should probably pop in if you like books. And now a lot of these books might be in French, but we are also going to talk about a few bookstores that have books in English.

Colson Whitehead in Toulouse

[00:04:56] Elyse Rivin: Absolutely. And if ever you know of or have heard of a writer, a lot of bookstores, not every single bookstore obviously, but a lot of bookstores in Paris and elsewhere do have conferences about writers. They have writers who are invited and usually talk a little about their book, and then you can get a dedication.

[00:05:15] Elyse Rivin: Listen, I have to tell you this, this is, here in Toulouse and I’ll mention the bookstore a little bit later because it is on the list of the best bookstores in France anyway, Colson White (sic)* who has won the Pulitzer prize twice in the United States as a writer which is a rare event. He came here to Toulouse and I have a book signed by him.

[00:05:36] Elyse Rivin: So you see, it’s not just French writers. Ooh, I’m getting all excited here.

[00:05:40] Annie Sargent: So did you get to chitchat with him a little bit?

[00:05:42] Elyse Rivin: No, actually, the truth is, it was my friend Gina. I couldn’t go, I think I had some…

[00:05:46] Annie Sargent: Oh, Gina got the book for you.

[00:05:47] Elyse Rivin: She got the book for me. She was lovely. I didn’t ask her to, and she did it at the end and she had him sign it for me.

[00:05:53] Elyse Rivin: So I have it addressed to me, even though he’s never seen my face.

[00:05:58] Annie Sargent: Wonderful. Wonderful. Okay, so you put together a list, I put together a different list. Let’s see how we do, Elyse. Okay. I’ll let you take it away.

The largest bookstore complex: Gilbert Joseph

[00:06:06] Elyse Rivin: Okay. So actually the largest, what’s considered to be the largest bookstore complex, that’s the term that’s used actually in France, is a bookstore that’s began as a specialty store for Scholastic books.

[00:06:19] Elyse Rivin: And that is Joseph Gilbert which is in the Latin Quarter. It was begun in the 1880s by a professor who decided that it was important to have a bookstore, not just for literary things and very obscure intellectual things at the time, but to have a bookstore that offered scholarly books and scholastic books and make it available with a big selection for the general public.

[00:06:42] Elyse Rivin: And so it was his baby, and it was started on Bd Saint-Michel, which is still where the headquarters are. And later on, he left the bookstore to his two sons who opened up branches. So actually, even though, and you and I both know this from spending a lot of time in that area, there are several Joseph Gilbert right on Bd Saint-Michel.

[00:07:04] Elyse Rivin: Some of them are owned by one brother and some of them are owned by the other, and don’t even ask me how I know which one is which. I have no idea. They also have branches in some other cities. There’s a small branch here in Toulouse as well. They specialize in everything, that is, there’s no such thing.

[00:07:21] Elyse Rivin: They have scholastic books. They have new books. They have used books. They have literary books. They have intellectual books. They have children’s books. It is the biggest bookstore in France.

[00:07:32] Annie Sargent: Right. It’s one that most people will recognize the name. I mean, they’re big, and I’m sure they’re more than just Paris. I mean, there’s one in Toulouse. There’s probably ones in different towns as well.

[00:07:44] Elyse Rivin: I would think so. I do know that the one here in Toulouse specializes specifically in Scholastic books, and I think it has a used book section, which is something a lot of these bookstores do have. And of course, now it’s become more fashionable to do that again anyway, is to recycle books by giving them a second chance, you know, in a bookstore, right?

[00:08:02] Elyse Rivin: That is not the most famous bookstore for tourists, but it is for most French people. To be the known as the big bookstore for general interest of every kind. I think it’s got three or four floors, the main store on Bd Saint-Michel. It’s a big deal. Everybody who’s ever been to Paris knows about it.

[00:08:21] Annie Sargent: Right, and besides, if you go to high school in France, this is one of the few places where they ask you to buy books. That’s where you get your used books, school books, you know? And it is very interesting because later on at the university, they don’t typically ask you to buy a lot of books.

[00:08:38] Annie Sargent: They will, well, my daughter anyway, she did her whole schooling here, she did all the way to Master’s degree, and I think she had a couple of professors suggest some books. But it’s not like me when I went to the US to college where I had to spend thousands on books, literally. It’s not like that in France.

[00:08:59] Elyse Rivin: No, that’s that’s interesting. In the States, it’s quite the opposite. In high school, you don’t usually have to buy your books, but in college yes you do.

[00:09:06] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so it’s the opposite.

Shakespeare and Company

[00:09:08] Elyse Rivin: And then of course, the other bookstore in Paris that is extremely famous, specifically for English-speaking people is Shakespeare and Company.

[00:09:16] Annie Sargent: Right, and we did an episode about the history of Shakespeare and Company. I can’t remember what number it was, but it was a few months back.

[00:09:22] Elyse Rivin: It was a while back. And of course, Shakespeare and Company is probably one of the largest English language bookstores in France and it has a very long history.

[00:09:32] Elyse Rivin: Interestingly enough, I was just doing some other research this morning about it because the original bookstore was not where it is right now. Right now it is on the basically Quai de la Seine, which is by the way, where they used to burn people in the Middle Ages, you know?

[00:09:46] Annie Sargent: How charming.

[00:09:48] Elyse Rivin: Right? Well, hey, you got a good point of view if you’re standing in the esplanade of Notre Dame. But the original bookstore was created by, of course, Sylvia Beach. And it was in the same area.

[00:09:59] Annie Sargent: It was perhaps 10 minute walk from there.

[00:10:01] Elyse Rivin: That one closed actually during World War II.

[00:10:04] Elyse Rivin: And the one that exists now was reopened in 1951, where it is now.

Some bookstores also published books

[00:10:10] Elyse Rivin: And of course, it was very famous even in the 30s, 40s and 50s, because it published books. And that’s something else that’s very interesting here, is that I don’t know if any of the independent bookstores in the United States do that, but there’s a history in France of certain bookstores also being publishers for certain books. And there’s one in Toulouse, called Privat.

[00:10:33] Elyse Rivin: And what Shakespeare and Company did of course was publish books that were banned. It was very scandalous and, all of the people in the twenties and thirties and forties, like Hemmingway and all of us people of course were made it famous.

[00:10:44] Elyse Rivin: They put it on the map, so to speak. They still have readings. I was looking at the list of the people that have actually been invited to do readings there, and it’s very much current contemporary writers, French and other as well.

[00:10:58] Annie Sargent: Yeah, it’s huge. So just a tip for those of you who want to visit Shakespeare and Company, when you go, there’s always a line, unless you go in January and February, this is a place that gets a lot of people want to see it and it’s right by Notre Dame, so it’s easy to get to.

[00:11:15] Annie Sargent: They do have security if you want to go inside of the store. And so you should plan on at least half an hour before you can get in. And it’s best if you get there when they, well, before they open at 10 in the morning, because after that it, it is just permanently full of people.

[00:11:33] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. The word I actually put in the, the little show notes was besieged. That is what it is, it’s besieged.

[00:11:38] Annie Sargent: That’s a good word. This time of year we’re recording this in late June, I’m sure there’s a hundred people standing outside right now.

[00:11:45] Annie Sargent: I mean, and of course sometimes I think people just come to take a picture of a selfie with the sign in the back.

[00:11:50] Annie Sargent: Which is fine as well, you know.

[00:11:52] Annie Sargent: No, of course they do that. I do that. Don’t you do that?

[00:11:55] Elyse Rivin: Of course I do that.

[00:11:55] Annie Sargent: Of course. Okay. Okay, so we are clear.

[00:11:59] Elyse Rivin: Everybody does that. Right?

Librairie Jousseaume, Galerie Vivienne

[00:12:00] Elyse Rivin: So, other than that, I thought it would be fun to talk about some bookstores that have what we could call, specialties, in a sense, you know, that have specific interests, or are in places that are particularly interesting to visit.

[00:12:13] Elyse Rivin: And one of them, I know I’ve been there, but I don’t have that clear memory of it because it, it’s kind of blends with a day that I spent in going in and out of some of the galleries. There is a bookstore that is very, very old, again from the end of the 1800s, called the Librairie Jousseaume, which is in the Coeur Vivienne.

[00:12:33] Annie Sargent: Aha. Okay.

[00:12:34] Elyse Rivin: The Coeur Vivienne is one of the most beautiful of those covered galleries.

[00:12:39] Annie Sargent: Right, it’s right by the BNF too.

[00:12:40] Elyse Rivin: It’s right by the BNF. It’s in the 2nd Arrondissement.

[00:12:43] Annie Sargent: Perhaps we should explain what the BNF is.

[00:12:45] Elyse Rivin: BNF stands for Bibliothèque Nationale de France which means the huge, huge, huge French National Library.

[00:12:53] Elyse Rivin: Right.

[00:12:53] Annie Sargent: So this is a library, not a bookstore. And we will do another episode about the beautiful libraries in France. But yeah, so Galerie Vivienne is right across the entrance for the main BNF Richelieu, which reopened recently and is totally worth a visit. But right across from it, there’s the entrance to one of these covered passages, Galerie Vivienne, and it has a marvelous bookstore inside.

[00:13:17] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:13:18] Elyse Rivin: And in fact the, it’s one of those places that’s very old fashioned, you know what I mean? It’s very, very elegant inside, it’s very, like you imagine people are going to come out in dresses and clothes from the end of the 19th century.

[00:13:30] Annie Sargent: It’s like Harry Potter’s kind of ambiance.

[00:13:32] Elyse Rivin: But the bookstore is actually a bookstore that specializes in old, used, and rare books.

[00:13:38] Elyse Rivin: And I like it, but it’s the kind of place where I’m always afraid to touch anything, you know?

[00:13:45] Annie Sargent: You should be.

[00:13:46] Elyse Rivin: Well, thank you so much. You know, I didn’t have grease from my French fries left on my fingers, so…

[00:13:51] Annie Sargent: You never know.

[00:13:52] Elyse Rivin: It’s very lovely. If you want to visit a place just to get a sense of that old world elegance, that’s really, really what it is. Both the gallery and then this bookstore, which is very famous for being that kind of a place, you know, that people go to. Yeah.

[00:14:08] Annie Sargent: And if you, if you’re looking for, you know, very expensive, very old, you know, first prints of certain books, I guess he can hook you up.

[00:14:17] Elyse Rivin: Yes.

[00:14:18] Elyse Rivin: Yes, exactly. That’s the kind of place where you go, you say, I’m looking for blah, blah, blah, and they are specialized in things like that. It’s very refined.

[00:14:27] Annie Sargent: Extremely so, yes.

[00:14:28] Elyse Rivin: It’s very beautiful. It’s actually worth it, the accommodation of going to the gallery, and the bookstore, it’s really, it’s kind of a neat thing to do.

[00:14:34] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. Yeah. It’s right near the Palais-Royal.

[00:14:36] Annie Sargent: Yes. Galerie Vivienne. Yeah. So this is all in the area of the Louvre area, Palais-Royal, there is so much to do in that area. You could probably spend a whole week and not see it all. It’s just amazing. It’s absolutely beautiful and yeah, people should stop rushing through Paris.

Librairie Delamain, the oldest independent bookstore in Paris

[00:14:52] Elyse Rivin: You’re absolutely right. And then talking about that area and elegant old bookstores, the other one, and this one I did not know about, but now I’m dying to go back and visit it.

[00:15:01] Elyse Rivin: It’s called Librairie Delamain. And it is right next to the Comedie Francaise. It is right, it is on the court, the Gallery of the Palais Royal, and it is considered to be the oldest independent bookstore in Paris, which probably also means in France because it was founded in the 1700s.

[00:15:23] Elyse Rivin: Wow.

[00:15:23] Elyse Rivin: It was founded before the French Revolution.

[00:15:26] Annie Sargent: That is very old.

[00:15:27] Elyse Rivin: That’s really old. Now, what I’m assuming is that at the time a bookstore was for those people who could afford a book, which was probably not that many people, and so it was really something special. But it also is a place that specializes in rare books, and it is owned now by Gallimard.

[00:15:46] Elyse Rivin: And Gallimard is one of the biggest publishing houses in France, very prestigious one. Very, very prestigious one. And a lot of their writers win these prizes, you know, all the time and stuff like that. That’s basically why it’s still around, why it hasn’t closed, because I can’t imagine that otherwise there would be enough people buying these kinds of rare books to keep a bookstore like that open.

[00:16:08] Elyse Rivin: But Gallimard also puts their own books into the bookstore. So of course, that makes it easier to keep it going and it’s in a gorgeous spot if you’ve never been to the park or the Palais Royal.

[00:16:18] Annie Sargent: Right. So it’s on 155 Rue Saint Honoré in the 1st Arrondissement, which means that it’s also surrounded by fashion houses.

[00:16:26] Elyse Rivin: Yes, it is.

[00:16:28] Annie Sargent: So fashionistas and book lovers should go to La Librairie Delamain.


[00:16:33] Elyse Rivin:

Bilingual Bookstores

[00:16:33] Elyse Rivin: Now talking about a bilingual bookstore. No, a bilingual, it’s interesting because we have two or three bookstores that specialize just in English language books. I’m sure there are other bookstores that specialize in other languages as well.

[00:16:47] Elyse Rivin: But there’s one called Galignani, which is on Rue de Rivoli, which is basically, it’s right across pretty much from the part that’s Tuileries. So you can say Louvre Tuileries right there, and it’s a bookstore that’s half and half pretty much. It says, online yesterday, it said 60% French and 40% English, but I’ve been in there and I don’t know if you can really tell the difference.

[00:17:07] Elyse Rivin: It’s pretty much half and half, which is very interesting. And it’s current books. So it has contemporary writers, both English speaking writers and French writers. Lots of people who can advise you on books. I like it a lot as a bookstore, it’s medium size. And it’s very popular with tourists because the people who work there speak English and French, so you can get some advice from them.

[00:17:30] Annie Sargent: Excellent. Yeah, that’s, that’s really good. So if you forgot to pack your book for your trip, you can go get one there.

[00:17:35] Elyse Rivin: Oh yeah, yeah. Oh, absolutely. As, even if it’s just a little mystery story, you know, doesn’t make any difference.

La Librairie Gourmande

[00:17:40] Elyse Rivin: Now, let’s get into the more serious kind of stuff like food.

[00:17:45] Elyse Rivin: Aha. Food.

[00:17:47] Elyse Rivin: Okay. So it turns out that the largest bookstore devoted to cooking and food in France, in France is… now, I didn’t make this up, it’s what I read, so I’m writing it down, okay? It’s called La Librairie Gourmande and it’s in Montmartre. And it has everything, absolutely everything related to food. Food of any kind in the world, France, cooking, cuisine, everything and anything you might ever want to have. And it’s at 92 Rue Montmartre.

[00:18:20] Annie Sargent: Hmm, but that’s not in Montmartre.

[00:18:23] Elyse Rivin: It says in the 2nd. No, it’s not in Montmartre. Excuse me. That’s right. You’re right.

[00:18:28] Annie Sargent: Brain fart.

[00:18:30] Annie Sargent: I can see why would be confused.

[00:18:32] Elyse Rivin: Yes. I was, I was just writing it down. Yes, you’re right. I’ve never been there. Have you been there?

[00:18:37] Annie Sargent: It does not ring a bell.

[00:18:38] Elyse Rivin: But I would like to go now.

[00:18:39] Elyse Rivin: Yes. Now as far I know, it’s books, so it’s not kitchen gadgets.

[00:18:43] Elyse Rivin: It’s not a place that sells cooking equipment, but it has every kind of cookbook imaginable and books about food. I have a book at home that’s about the history of fruit. I like fruit, you know, I’m yeah. And things like that. I mean, you can have books like that that are included in a bookstore about food and cooking.

[00:19:03] Elyse Rivin: So it’s of neat. Sure, Yeah.

[00:19:04] Elyse Rivin: As long as you don’t have your apple worm and your bookworm meeting together at the same time, you know.

LGBT+ Bookshop, Les Mots a la Bouche

[00:19:09] Elyse Rivin: Then, there’s a bookstore dedicated to LGBT, et cetera, et cetera, in the Marais,

[00:19:16] Annie Sargent: Hmm.

[00:19:16] Annie Sargent: Hmm

[00:19:16] Elyse Rivin: It was started by, I think a couple of people in the early 1980s and it’s called Les Mots a la Bouche.

[00:19:25] Elyse Rivin: Okay.

[00:19:25] Elyse Rivin: And it is really a bookstore that’s specialized in books and literature, that is when they say books and literature, meaning not just literature, but also books that are nonfiction, about anything connected to the gay community, the alternative community, and it is in the Marais, although it is in the 11th, it says Rue Saint-Ambroise in the 11th, but they consider it to be… uh, no, I know why. I went online and I looked, the old address was in the Marais and I went online to check again to make sure. And sure enough, it has moved to the 11th, which is not very far from the new Opera House.

[00:20:03] Annie Sargent: Yeah, it’s moved east a little bit.

[00:20:05] Elyse Rivin: But apparently it’sa bookstore that is very popular with a particular population.

[00:20:11] Elyse Rivin: It’s a specialized bookstore, just like cooking.

[00:20:13] Annie Sargent: Sure. Yeah.

L’Amour du Noir

[00:20:14] Elyse Rivin: Other specialized bookstores, L’Amour du Noir. That’s in the Latin Quarter. And it is a secondhand bookstore, but it specializes very specifically in mysteries, thrillers, and Science Fiction. Annie, that’s for you.

[00:20:31] Annie Sargent: That’s me. Yep. I’d be happy there.

[00:20:34] Elyse Rivin: You’ll be happy, very happy there. Rue du Cardinal Lemoine in the 5th, in the Latin Quarter.


[00:20:41] Elyse Rivin: And you have Artazart.

[00:20:44] Elyse Rivin: Artazart, it’s a typical, an arty kind of title for a bookstore on Canal Saint-Martin, uh, Saint-Martin in the 10th. And it is apparently, the place to go for any book about art, about design, about graphics, anything that’s connected to the, any field of art in the world, including architecture. It is also open 363 days a year.

[00:21:12] Elyse Rivin: The only day it is closed is the 1st of May, and that’s good to know because there are not too many places that are open all the time.

[00:21:20] Annie Sargent: That’s true.

L’Écume des Pages

[00:21:20] Elyse Rivin: And then, the last but not least, is a place called L’Écume des Pages which is a kind of play on words for L’Écume des jour, which is an old book and movie from the 1900s, was it 1930s, John Gabin?

[00:21:33] Elyse Rivin: Is that it? Jean Gabin. I think. You know.

[00:21:35] Annie Sargent: Well, dunno who did the movie, but I know Boris Vian wrote it.

[00:21:38] Elyse Rivin: He wrote it.

[00:21:39] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I read it. I didn’t watch the movie. See, story of my life.

[00:21:43] Elyse Rivin: Well, there you go. It’s very good. It’s a new bookstore, that opened up just a few years ago on Bd Saint-Germain. And one of the things that, it’s a general bookstore, which means it has books of every kind for every kind of person and including children’s books, and apparently is doing very, very well.

[00:22:02] Elyse Rivin: And one of the reasons why, is because it’s opened every day until midnight.

[00:22:07] Annie Sargent: Oh, wow, that’s late. Yeah.

[00:22:09] Elyse Rivin: Which means that those of you know us, you and whoever, like you’ve done with your day of kind of touring, you’ve had your dinner and you just feel like taking a stroll and instead of going, oh, everything’s closed.

[00:22:21] Elyse Rivin: Well, there you are. You can just go and, and one of the things that’s of course always nice in bookstores is you can browse.

[00:22:28] Annie Sargent: Right. So this is really close to the Saint-Germain-des-Prés Church, The Café de Flore it’s actually two, three, businesses down from Café de Flore. So you’ll probably, I mean, if you walk my Saint-Germain-des-Prés tour, you walk right in front of it. And I think I mentioned it in the tour as well.

[00:22:45] Elyse Rivin: It’s interesting because one of the things they were saying about it is that there were two bookstores that are famous, that were famous. One of them that I know about called Hume ash that closed because of the pandemic, that had been around for quite a long time.

[00:23:00] Elyse Rivin: And so, they said that the people who opened this were very brave, were foolish, whatever you want to, you know, that they decided to try opening up a new bookstore in an area where two had just closed and it’s working, so…

[00:23:13] Annie Sargent: Yeah, think this bookstore has been there since before the pandemic.

[00:23:16] Elyse Rivin: It started, I think in the, before the pandemic, but it was not like famous, famous, you know? So, you know, so, but it matters to stay, stay alive, which is already something.

[00:23:26] Annie Sargent: Very nice. Very nice. So there’s a lot of bookstores in Paris that you can go look around and enjoy.

[00:23:32] Elyse Rivin: And and as I was leaving the house, my husband said, and why aren’t you going to talk about the bookstore that specializes in medical supply, medical information?

[00:23:40] Elyse Rivin: I went, well, really, you know, unless you’re a doctor and you speak fluent French, I don’t think that would be exactly what you would be looking for.

[00:23:48] Annie Sargent: And of course there are bookstores specializing in every…

[00:23:51] Elyse Rivin: … just about everything, right?

[00:23:53] Annie Sargent: … scholarly kind of thing. I’m sure they don’t have books about, I don’t know, drywall or something, but, but they probably have, you know, not the whole bookstores anyway. They might have a book about drywall…

[00:24:04] Elyse Rivin: If there is one, my husband probably knows about it, you know, anyway, but…

[00:24:08] Elyse Rivin: Books about bricks, you know, like… how many bookstores do you know that just write about bricks? Well, they might be, you never know.

[00:24:14] Annie Sargent: Some books. Yeah. Who knows?

[00:24:15] Elyse Rivin: But course those are, of course there are other specialized bookstores.

[00:24:19] Elyse Rivin: But hey, this is just a sampling.

[00:24:21] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:24:22] Elyse Rivin: Just similar.

Bookstores outside of Paris

[00:24:22] Elyse Rivin: Now outside of Paris, which of course still has more bookstores.

[00:24:27] Annie Sargent: You know what, Elyse?

[00:24:28] Annie Sargent: What?

[00:24:29] Annie Sargent: Most of France is outside of Paris.

[00:24:31] Annie Sargent: Is it really?

[00:24:32] Annie Sargent: Oh my God. I don’t think Parisians know that, though.

[00:24:36] Annie Sargent: Somebody has to let them know.

[00:24:37] Elyse Rivin: Oh, I think, I think we should have t-shirts that say most of France is outside of Paris and walk around Paris wearing them, see what happens, you know.

[00:24:45] Annie Sargent: See what looks we get.

[00:24:46] Elyse Rivin: Really, you know. That is not possible, Madame. You know, really. So, starting with one that I know is extremely famous. I’ve been in it once. I have to admit not more than that, because it was the long weekend that I spent in Bordeaux a few years ago.

[00:25:03] Elyse Rivin:

MOLLAT in Bordeaux

[00:25:03] Elyse Rivin: There is a, a very, very famous, an enormous bookstore in Bordeaux called MOLLAT, and it is on pedestrian, the big pedestrian street, uh, Rue Gambetta. I think it’s called Rue Gambetta, but it’s the huge pedestrian street.

[00:25:17] Annie Sargent: Are you sure it’s not Rue Sainte-Catherine?

[00:25:20] Elyse Rivin: I had it down as Gambetta. Do you have it down as Rue Sainte-Catherine?

[00:25:23] Annie Sargent: I do not. But the large pedestrian street is Sainte-Catherine in Bordeaux.

[00:25:29] Elyse Rivin: Okay. I, maybe it’s the cross street, but I, I don’t, don’t, don’t count on me for the exact address at this point. Okay. It was started in 1888, by Mr. Mollat, and it is considered to be the most.

[00:25:44] Elyse Rivin: I know there are lots of ‘most’ in this list anyway, but it is the most ancient independent bookstore in France, older than even the ones in Paris, the original bookstore. That is the one that’s still standing today, and it is over 2,500 meters of surface. It is huge.

[00:26:02] Elyse Rivin: Absolutely huge. It is a bookstore that has everything.

[00:26:07] Elyse Rivin: Absolutely everything, and it is really famous. People who go to visit Bordeaux actually sometimes include visiting Mollat as a site to see.

[00:26:17] Annie Sargent: Sure, sure. Yeah.

[00:26:18] Elyse Rivin: Just kind of like, like going to Shakespeare and Company in Paris, you know? I have to say, it was rather impressive and I don’t remember if I went through the entire bookstore or not, because that’s huge.

[00:26:29] Elyse Rivin: Really, that’s an enormous amount of space. But they must be doing something right. I know that they have a lot of readings. They invite a lot of writers there because it’s so famous. And so I’m sure that lots of writers like going there because they get lots of people coming to sign their books and… you know.

[00:26:43] Elyse Rivin: But it’s really very, very, very famous.

Bookstore in Toulouse

[00:26:45] Elyse Rivin: Now, six on the list. And it’s interesting because I know you and I have talked about this and you don’t really like this bookstore, and I’m not still sure exactly why, but Ombres Blanches here in Toulouse is on everybody’s list, is one of the nicest, most complete bookstores, series bookstores in France.

[00:27:04] Elyse Rivin: It has three stores actually. Now it has the main store that is on two different levels, quite big, with an extensive collection of everything art, literature, history, science, political science, philosophy.

[00:27:17] Elyse Rivin: It has a second bookstore that is devoted to travel and nature books and cookbooks, which is very good too.

[00:27:23] Elyse Rivin: And then it has a third bookstore, which opened, I guess a few years ago because I go to it a fairly often, but I have no idea how long it’s actually been there. And that is a bookstore devoted to foreign language books. So they have, and they will order any book for you that you want if they don’t have it. And they do their readings. And that’s where I got Colson White’s (sic)* signing book.

[00:27:47] Annie Sargent: Very famous for that, I mean they do events, yeah, they a lot of events.

[00:27:50] Elyse Rivin: It is very much a writer’s bookstore, in that sense, you know, that they like to go there because they will get crowds no matter what.

[00:27:57] Elyse Rivin: And everybody knows about that. They put a, a bulletin out every month with, with all of the readings and dedications and things like that, you know.

[00:28:04] Elyse Rivin:

[00:28:04] Annie Sargent: I can tell you why I don’t like it.

[00:28:05] Elyse Rivin: You said you didn’t like it, you said you thought they weren’t very friendly.

[00:28:09] Annie Sargent: Exactly. I met the owner, and I didn’t think he was very friendly. I don’t like the fact that there’s nowhere to sit. They actually don’t want to look, you know, they don’t want you handling the books, so it feels very strange to me being in the bookstore you can’t touch anything. Somebody will definitely come and bat at your fingers.

[00:28:29] Elyse Rivin: See, I’ve never had that experience.

[00:28:31] Elyse Rivin: I’ve gone up to spend hours in the Art section and I’ve just, there are a few seats there aren’t too many seats, but I’ve just spent hours.

[00:28:38] Annie Sargent: Yeah. I just don’t think it’s a welcoming kind of bookstore. I think it’s a bit stuffy and it’s also a mess because things are in different buildings. I don’t know. I’m just not impressed.

[00:28:50] Elyse Rivin: Yeah, you don’t like it.

[00:28:51] Annie Sargent: No, I don’t like it.

[00:28:52] Elyse Rivin: Okay. It’s fine. I actually do, I mean, I go there for certain kinds of things.

[00:28:56] Annie Sargent: You mentioned Privat before, which I call Privat for some reason I say the T, I don’t know why. I loved going to Privat when I was a kid.

[00:29:04] Elyse Rivin: Privat, we should explain, is an older, it’s a bookstore that exists I think, since the beginning of the 1800s that used to be a publisher. I don’t know if it still is.

[00:29:14] Elyse Rivin: I don’t know either.

[00:29:14] Elyse Rivin: And of course, and unfortunately even since I’ve lived here, it has reduced its size. I mean, there were two venues and now I think there’s only one, it still is a bookstore, but I don’t know if they do as they used to be very prestigious as a publisher, as well.

[00:29:31] Annie Sargent: What was the name of that massive bookstore right on Place du Capitole? We had a massive bookstore right there for decades when growing up.

[00:29:39] Elyse Rivin: I don’t know.

[00:29:39] Annie Sargent: It wasn’t all Blanc, it wasn’t Privat, it was some other one.

[00:29:42] Elyse Rivin: Right next to what used to be the cafe, there was a big cafe where there’s now some other kinds of stores.

[00:29:47] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I don’t remember. But anyway, we have lost some massive bookstores. At the beginning you said, you know, it’s still a place in France where bookstores are still a thing, but I do think we’re slowly, it’s losing ground, is happening slower than in other countries perhaps, but it’s, I think it’s still happening.

[00:30:04] Elyse Rivin: Oh, I’m sure that that is happening. It is, but as you say, it’s certainly a lot slower and then there’s still a certain resistance because I know that, I spent a lot of time in the city center here in Toulouse, and I’m always surprised that there’s a new bookstore that opens. Now I don’t know how long it will last.

[00:30:19] Annie Sargent: Exactly. That’s question.

[00:30:20] Elyse Rivin:

Godon in Lille

[00:30:20] Elyse Rivin: In Lille, which is a city that I have visited twice for a few days, and it’s very charming, I have to say. They have a very big bookstore right on the big Central Square called Godon. And again, it’s one of these very big, three floors of books of every kind, every category, for children, this and that.

[00:30:39] Elyse Rivin: And they also do lots of invitations for writers to come and do signings. And it is the big bookstore in Lille.

[00:30:47] Elyse Rivin: Mm. Mm-hmm.

Librairie Maupetit, Marseille

[00:30:48] Elyse Rivin: In Marseille, there is a bookstore called Librairie Maupetit. And it was started by a family in the 1800s and now also belongs to Gallimard. It’s interesting, Gallimard seems to be buying up a lot of bookstores.

[00:31:01] Elyse Rivin: Maybe it’s because that way they can put out all of their books, which they, I mean, they publish a lot, you know. There used to be several different bookstores on the Canna, which is the big, big avenue that goes down to the old port. There is only one at this point.

Le Bal des Ardents, Lyon

[00:31:15] Elyse Rivin: In Lyon, there is a bookstore called Le Bal des Ardents, which is very lovely as a title, and it is their most famous independent bookstore.

[00:31:24] Elyse Rivin: I have never been there, I’m not sure, but it says it specializes in hard to find and hard to get books, and they do lots and lots of readings and conferences and dedications as well.

[00:31:35] Annie Sargent: Hmm. I don’t remember seeing that one. See? No.

Kléber, Strasbourg

[00:31:38] Elyse Rivin: And then in Strasbourg, which is a city that does not surprise me, because it is a huge university city.

[00:31:45] Elyse Rivin: It’s got, it’s the European community is there, it has lots of bookstores and one of its most famous is a bookstore called Kléber.

[00:31:53] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So I was in Strasbourg not very long ago, but I don’t remember walking by that bookstore. Hmm. Interesting. It might be on a street that, that most people don’t walk to.

[00:32:03] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. I think it’s, if I remember correctly, it’s across from one of the, there are a couple of stores that are what we would call like small department store type things that are not quite, it’s not on the Place where the cathedral is, but not very far. I’m pretty sure that’s where it is.

[00:32:16] Annie Sargent: Okay. Interesting.

Le Trouve Tout Du Livre

[00:32:17] Elyse Rivin: And then, just to mention something that I discovered that is called Le Trouve Tout Du Livre. Which I think incredible because it’s a tongue twister, and that’s how do you make a name of a bookstore into a tongue twister? It is in a very small village called Somail or Le Somail, on the Canal du Midi in the Aude department, not far from Carcassone. And it is considered to be the largest collection of old and used books in Europe.

[00:32:46] Elyse Rivin: Over 50,000 books.

[00:32:48] Elyse Rivin: Old books, rare books, one of a kind books. It’s one level up and two levels down. And apparently, people come from all over Europe to look for things there, which means that they probably have books in several different languages. That they can’t just be books in French.

[00:33:03] Elyse Rivin: And it is famous. It’s famous as a place for people who are bookworms to go and do what would be called to “fouille which, in, how do you translate it into English? Yeah?

[00:33:14] Annie Sargent: Fouiller means, to search through things, yeah, searching through, like, imagine someone just rummaging around stuff to find something.

[00:33:23] Elyse Rivin: I saw two pictures of it on internet yesterday and I thought, wow, this is one of those places if you don’t like places that seem to be like underground grottos filled with books, don’t go there.

[00:33:35] Annie Sargent: Well, but the thing is, yeah, I like those types of places because then you, you look through, you rummage through stuff and then you find the one thing, and then you just have to buy it, because you found it. It’s like you discovered a new continent or something.

Le Trouve Tout du Livre, Montolieu

[00:33:47] Elyse Rivin: Exactly. And the other other thing to mention, and it’s really not very far from this bookstore called, I don’t know why I’m having trouble with, Le Trouve Tout du Livre, sorry I just thought what a real tongue twister is the wonderful, wonderful village of Montolieu, which is very, very close by.

The Village of Books

[00:34:04] Elyse Rivin: Also in the Aude, which is what it’s about, not quite even, I think an hour from Toulouse, I’ve been through it two or three times and stopped there a couple of times. It’s a small village that is dedicated to books and was started actually by some English speaking people there. About half the people who live there are in fact English-speaking and so, everything and everybody, except for the people who run restaurants and maybe the pharmacy that works there is connected to books, they have bookstores that are for new books, for old books, they have book festivals.

[00:34:35] Annie Sargent: Right, their book fair, like, so you have special weekends where they put out a bunch of books outside and there’s places where you buy like per pound.

[00:34:44] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So it’s going to be like, you pick, like you’re going to go get, do you know people like to read romance or your silly mysteries that you like. You can just go buy a few kilos of silly mysteries.

[00:34:56] Annie Sargent: And then I can, give them to some bookworms to eat afterwards, you know. It’s really famous. It’s called The Village of Books, basically, you know, and it does have festivals.

Book festivals and fairs

[00:35:06] Annie Sargent: Now maybe you know of a couple of dates about festivals, I’m not even sure.

[00:35:10] Annie Sargent: I didn’t look up some dates, but just go Google Montolieu and festival and you’ll find stuff. But there’s a bunch of places like that. So, I mean, the big one obviously, is the Paris Book Fair which it’s in March I think, usually. And it’s authors, publishers and people like that.

[00:35:28] Annie Sargent: There’s a festival du Premier Roman in Chambéry it’s an event where people go and vote for their favorite debut novel. Oh, that’s cool. Debut novel?.

[00:35:42] Elyse Rivin: Debut. Debut. Debut. Is that French or English? Oh, boy.

[00:35:46] Annie Sargent: It’s both and I don’t how say it in either one.

[00:35:48] Elyse Rivin: Your favourite first novel.

[00:35:49] Annie Sargent: Great author, first novel. There’s one called Saint Malo Etonnant Voyageur Festival So this is for writers, filmmakers, and photographers from around the world to celebrate the spirit of adventure and discovery.

[00:36:04] Annie Sargent: Le Quai du Polard in Lyon. So this is crime thrillers that would be right up your alley. That’s in Lyon, they do this every year. There’s a Festival de la Biographie in Nîmes.

[00:36:18] Annie Sargent: So if you like to read biographies, perfect for you, there’s a Foire du Livre de Brive la Gaillarde

[00:36:24] Annie Sargent: Ah, That I do know about.

[00:36:25] Annie Sargent: Okay. Do tell us about that.

[00:36:27] Elyse Rivin: I should have remembered about that. It’s actually, Brive, which is not that far from here, isn’t a kind of medium to smallish size city.

[00:36:36] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. But it’s famous for this book fair every year, and people come from all over the country and they have all of the publishers that present their books, their latest books. And so it’s the, it’s the big, big, big, book festival.

[00:36:48] Annie Sargent: Right, so this says the 300 authors in general attend and it attracts nearly a hundred thousand visitors each year. Mm-hmm. So it’s a biggie. It’s a really biggie. Brive La Gaillarde being a town of modest size.

[00:37:01] Elyse Rivin: Yes. Very modest size.

[00:37:02] Annie Sargent: It’s really interesting. I have not been to that.

[00:37:05] Elyse Rivin: I really haven’t, but I would’ve liked to. I mean, each year when it’s announced, I think I should go because it’s not that far, even by train to get, it’s just north of here.

[00:37:14] Elyse Rivin: I mean, it’s not just north of here, but it’s north of here.

Le Marathon des mots

[00:37:17] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then there’s another event that you’ve probably attended Le Marathon des Mots in Toulouse.

[00:37:22] Elyse Rivin: Yes, yes, yes.

[00:37:23] Annie Sargent: This is an international literature festival, that they feature readings, concerts, debates, exhibitions, things like that. So you’ve been there, right?

[00:37:32] Elyse Rivin: I, in fact, I would’ve liked to have gone this year, but for family reasons that because it was just this past week, I was not able to go. I love it. In fact, I’m actually thinking, why did I forget that it even existed? I love it. This is in June. It lasts for, I think five days pretty much.

[00:37:49] Elyse Rivin: And it has, what I’ve gone probably seven or eight years. I mean, I love it. Every year they invite a group of authors with a particular, they usually have French authors, and then they take a, either a theme or a country and invite people from that country to come as authors and they have readings.

[00:38:11] Elyse Rivin: So it’s the authors who read their books. But then you have famous actors and actresses who read excerpts from these books, and they, it’s in about 20 venues, different in Toulouse, and some of them are paying and some of them are free. It’s really a big, big, big, big event. And I’ve actually gotten to see some of my favorite actors that way. Because they actually come because it’s considered to be an honor to be invited to do some of these readings.

[00:38:38] Elyse Rivin: I’ve seen some writers from other countries. Like there’s a Cuban writer, that I like a lot named Padura. I saw an interview with him, which was translated of course into French, but it’s a big deal.

[00:38:48] Elyse Rivin: It’s wonderful.

[00:38:49] Annie Sargent: Hmm. Somehow I’ve managed to not go, which is weird, but I mean, I’m a bit of an introvert really, when it comes stuff like that, I’m happy with my books at home.

[00:38:58] Elyse Rivin: It’s interesting because what they do is, they program stuff starting at like 11 in the morning.

[00:39:02] Elyse Rivin: I mean, it’s really one of those kinds of festivals. So you have four or five events every single day, including a big deal one at eight o’clock at night. So the ones that are the big deal ones, if you don’t get the tickets ahead of time, forget it. I have a tendency to know which places I can go to, where I can just get there a little early and stand on line and that’s it.

[00:39:21] Elyse Rivin: But it’s wonderful. One year my sister was here, she does understand French, I took her, she was delighted, absolutely delighted. So it was kind of neat.

[00:39:30] Annie Sargent: Very good. Very good.

Festival International de la Bande Dessinéex

[00:39:31] Annie Sargent: There’s the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée in d’Angoulême.

[00:39:36] Elyse Rivin: Yes, that’s very famous.

[00:39:37] Annie Sargent: This is comic book festival. It’s the biggest one in Europe, apparently. Yes. Lots of comic books there.

[00:39:42] Annie Sargent: Le Livre en Poche de Saint Maure

[00:39:46] Annie Sargent: So this is dedicated to pocket size books. They have meetings with authors, workshops and readings, which is, it’s interesting because, I mean, les livres de poche are kind of, they have no monetary value. They don’t, you can’t resell them for nothing.

[00:40:00] Annie Sargent: So it’s kind of interesting that they have a whole festival around that.

[00:40:04] Elyse Rivin: Can I just interrupt you just for a second because I just read recently, in English we say a paperback, we don’t say livre de poche. In French, livre de poche means a book for your pocket. And I discovered by accident reading something recently why it’s called that, because I don’t remember which publisher wanted to see if they could get massive sales. And so they said, how about if we make books the size that you could fit into, like if there’s a standard size for pockets. I never really thought about it really being designed to put in a pocket. But that’s what it was really for.

[00:40:36] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And then there’s the festival du Roman Féminin in Paris. So this is, it celebrates women’s fictions, you know, there’s workshops, signings, you can get to meet your favorite authors. That sounds like a very fun thing.

[00:40:50] Annie Sargent: Now there’s more, Village du Livre than Montolieu, which we already mentioned, there’s one called Cuisery Village du Livre en Saone-et-Loire uh, I have never heard of this place.

[00:41:04] Annie Sargent: There’s another place called Becherel in Brittany. It’s known as the City of Books, and it’s a home to many secondhand bookstore. Fontenoy La Joûte in Lorraine area. They have lots of bookshops, book binding workshops and they host a major book fair every year. La Charité-sur-Loire en Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

[00:41:29] Annie Sargent: They call themselves the book town. They have workshops, an institute dedicated to the art of book binding and calligraphy, Essoyes in the Aube. Wow. that’s a place I’ve never been to. It’s very small.

[00:41:44] Elyse Rivin: I don’t even know where it is.

[00:41:45] Annie Sargent: I kind of know where it is, that is like deep in the heart of France.

[00:41:48] Annie Sargent: Oh, it’s famous for its association with a painter Renoir, so they probably have some sort of book and painter type thing.

[00:41:56] Annie Sargent: Ambierle in the Loire, they also have a lot of bookstores and secondhand bookseller and an annual bookseller, book festival. And of course we will do another episode about the libraries because there are some glorious libraries you could visit in France, the most impressive one is BNF Richelieu.

[00:42:19] Annie Sargent: So we’ll probably name that, it will probably be all about the BNF.

[00:42:22] Elyse Rivin: But of course, the whole history of libraries is fascinating in France anyway, and how they became public library.

[00:42:27] Annie Sargent: Well, if you think about it, without libraries, we would all be a lot dumber, and and we’re quite dumb.

[00:42:33] Elyse Rivin: But that is true.

[00:42:36] Annie Sargent: So we need these books.

Is listening to a book the same as reading?

[00:42:37] Annie Sargent: And it used to be that you could appreciate a person’s intellect by the size of their library. Now, of course, that libraries fit in your pocket. There are people who read an awful lot of books that don’t have any displayed in their homes. So it’s changed a lot. And you know, I have to mention this because I was kind of a, my husband started listening to books.

[00:42:59] Annie Sargent: As soon as Audible was created, he started listening to books. So he’s been buying Audible books for 20 years and I was not into it. At first I was like, no, I’m not going to understand it. It is not going to be good. And then I tried. The first one I tried I felt like I didn’t get anything out of the book, but the second one already was much, much better.

[00:43:23] Annie Sargent: So for people like you who listen to a podcast, I’m assuming you like listening to stuff. And if you do, I think you, if you haven’t tried, I mean any kind of audio books. Audio books are so good because you can listen anytime. I don’t know how much time you can reasonably spend in a week sitting down or lying down with a book.

[00:43:46] Elyse Rivin: Well, I, me personally, with maybe some exceptions, I would say two hours every night.

[00:43:53] Annie Sargent: Oh. Wow.

[00:43:54] Elyse Rivin: Yep. Yeah, I read. I mean, I read, I cannot go to sleep without reading. Period. I just cannot, I mean, I,this has been since I was six years old.

[00:44:04] Elyse Rivin: And when I say read, I mean it could be on my Kindle, it could be in paper, it could, you know, it does, but I’m reading, I’m not listening.

[00:44:10] Elyse Rivin: Because when I read, I can’t do anything else. If I tried to do reading and something else, then I don’t remember what I heard, read, whatever you want to call it. You know, I just, I just can’t. So I mean, there are days when I can’t read that much because it’s, I’m just too busy or I’m just really too tired.

[00:44:26] Elyse Rivin: I don’t read a lot during the day personally, because I usually am busy. I have to be sick, you know, it’s like when it goes to being kid when you’re home from school because you’re sick and then you get to stay in bed. And it’s not even early in the evening, I mean, I do it late after I’ve done even watching my television, that’s when I read.

[00:44:44] Elyse Rivin: Wow.

[00:44:45] Annie Sargent: So I used to do that, but I can’t, I haven’t been able to do that for so long. It just, work, family, things to do around the house. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted. I just fall asleep like a brick. I pick up a book and I’m asleep five seconds later. So I listen to books and I listen to books when I’m walking, when I’m cleaning, when I’m cooking, when I’m, you know, doing things when I’m showering.

[00:45:06] Elyse Rivin: And you are able to concentrate on, do you remember what you’ve listened to?

[00:45:11] Annie Sargent: So every now and then I realize, oh, I haven’t been really listening for a bit. And so I back up and listen again because your mind does wander, but you can get, there are so many books I would’ve never read if I couldn’t have listened to them, you know? I listened to a lot of classics, that when I tell people I’ve listened to Moby Dick a few times.

[00:45:32] Annie Sargent: They really? Yeah, I love Moby Dick. It’s a great book. I would’ve never sat down reading Moby Dick.

[00:45:38] Elyse Rivin: That I agree. I can imagine. Yeah.

[00:45:40] Annie Sargent: It’s too big. I read the entire Victor Hugo. I just, Les Miserables I read the whole thing, it’s going to take me two months to listen to the whole thing because it’s so long.

[00:45:50] Annie Sargent: But who cares? Like I just do an hour or two a day and I get through those books. So it’s just something that has been a big change. But I think for me it has been a good change. Because I am still in touch with literature through that way. And since I’m a bit of an introvert as well, and I don’t love going to all these events and things, there’s too many people like, ugh. It suits my personality just fine, just putting the headphones on and listening to a book.

[00:46:18] Elyse Rivin: Well, it is true. I mean, I know when I do buy a book on Kindle and it’s, I don’t have the audio thing, but every time I do buy it, it pops up. You know, you can hit the audio version as well, you know, so obviously it is, I agree with you.

[00:46:30] Elyse Rivin: It’s still being in touch with books and with writing, it is. It’s just another way of dealing with them.

[00:46:36] Annie Sargent: And I’m so into listening, that even books that are not published as an audiobook, I’ll get them on Kindle and then I’ll get my phone to read me Kindle while I walk. So it sounds like a computer, I mean, it’s a computer reader, you know, but I don’t mind. It’s better than not reading the book.

[00:46:54] Annie Sargent: So I’m a weirdo. I’ll admit it, I’m a weirdo, but you should know that by now, right? If been listening to podcast long enough, you know I’m a weird country bumpkin. There you go. Country bumpkin you certainly are not. But I find it really interesting that now for instance, I invest in paperback for books that I think are really good literature or important books that are not literature, like, books for art history that have beautiful, you know, that are important for me for other reasons.

[00:47:20] Annie Sargent: I went through a period of time where I made a collection of cookbooks that now, you know, I look at them going, oh gosh, I really need to have the energy to go open one of those and do that recipe. But you know, I love looking at them. I love.

[00:47:31] Annie Sargent: Yes cookbooks are great. Yes. So listeners, I would love to know when I publish this episode on Facebook, I would love for you to comment on the post to tell us how you read, what you read, if you’ve been to any of these bookstores, you know, what gets you interested. Are you interested in attending some of these book events that we’ve mentioned?

[00:47:54] Annie Sargent: I would love to know. Have you made the switch to listening to books? I would bet like half of the people listening to us listen to books as well. That would be my guess.

[00:48:04] Annie Sargent: I don’t know if I should wager with you about this one or not. Have to think about it.

[00:48:09] Annie Sargent: Anyway. Thank you so much, Elyse. It’s been delightful as always. Merci. Au revoir.


Thank you Patrons

[00:48:21] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my patrons for giving back and supporting the show. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing that. You can see them at Thank you all for supporting the show, some of you have been doing it for a long time, and even though I don’t read all your names out every week, I do appreciate you very much. And a shout out this week to new patrons, Sonoma Gal and Yvonne Moreno.

[00:48:48] Annie Sargent: To join these wonderful patrons, visit to support, to sign up. And to support Elyse, go to

Zoom meetings with Patrons

[00:49:00] Annie Sargent: I am recording this on Thursday, and I’m scheduled to have my first Zoom meeting with patrons on Saturday.

[00:49:07] Annie Sargent: I’ll schedule four Zoom meetings each month, they’ll all be in the same week, just to keep things simple. Most of my patrons are in North America, so three of these meetings should work best for them and also for people in Europe, because I’m not getting up at three in the morning. I love you guys. I’m not getting up at three in the morning to do a Zoom meeting. And the other thing that’s important is that, since I have no idea where you are, I can’t tell you when this is going to be, but I’ll tell you the time in France and you should be able to figure it out for yourself.

Zoom meeting times for Patrons

[00:49:39] Annie Sargent: So there’s going to be a Saturday meeting at 6:00 PM France time, there’s going to be a 7:00 PM Sunday meeting, also France time. A Thursday, 6:00 PM meeting because I have people tell me, no, I can never do this on Sundays, I can never do this on Saturdays, I’m retired, I would like to do this on a weekday.

[00:50:02] Annie Sargent: Alright, so there’s going to be three times Saturday 6:00 PM, Sunday 7:00 PM and Thursday 6:00 PM. And those will work for North America and Europe. There’s also going to be a Sunday, 9:00 AM France time, and that one will work well, well for Europe as well if you get up early on a Sunday, but also for Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand.

[00:50:27] Annie Sargent: Okay, so, everybody should be covered, and I really look forward to this.

[00:50:32] Annie Sargent: Now, patrons, you’ll learn about this when you open your Patreon notifications or your Patreon app. It’s going to be just one of the messages that you get from me, and I’m looking forward to talking to you. If you have questions you want me to address, just message me from inside of Patreon please, because I get so many questions, you can’t even guess the questions I get. Some of them I’m like, have you heard of Google? Anyway, but if it comes from within Patreon, I’m not going to say, have you heard of Google? I will take care of you.

Weather in France late August

[00:51:04] Annie Sargent: Okay, so, since this is a slow newsweek, let’s talk a little bit about this and that. First, it’s going to get very, very hot in France, this late August.

[00:51:16] Annie Sargent: So far, most of France has not experienced the super hype temperatures that we had last summer. In Paris, it was even a little bit rainy this summer, which is unusual.

[00:51:26] Annie Sargent: Well, Provence and Corsica were the exception. It got mightily hot there in July. But the rest of France was cooler than it had been last year. This weekend, and next week we’ll go back to the 39 degrees and 40 degrees, which translates to a hundred plus and way, way too hot.

[00:51:48] Annie Sargent: So, a reminder to all of you, if you are booking accommodations for France in June, July, August, or even September, make sure there’s A/C because you will die of heat if you happen to be here on a super hot day. Now, perhaps it’s not going to be a super hot day, but you never know.

[00:52:06] Annie Sargent: And also French people have this thing. To them, it’s either I have A/C or I have a pool. Well, when you are traveling, you’re not going to be dipping in the pool every five minutes because you’re hot. Okay? So you need A/C. You just need A/C.

About the Join Us in France podcast

[00:52:21] Annie Sargent: So let’s talk a little bit about how the sausage is made, the podcasting sausage, I mean. I’m always trying to improve the podcast, so I’m going ahead with things I’m not super comfortable with.

[00:52:32] Annie Sargent: First of all, Zoom meetings that I just told you about, and a whole bunch of new recording technologies. So, I think it’d be a fool not to, you know, go ahead and get on with the program because, you know, of course it’s comfortable to keep doing things the way you’ve always done them, but it would not do me or you a service.

Going forward Itinerary Calls are going to be on Zoom

[00:52:51] Annie Sargent: So going forward, my itinerary calls are going to be on Zoom. Now, you don’t have to turn on the camera if you don’t want to, but I’ll turn mine on. And about those calls, I have to tell you how wonderful it is for me to do more Bonjour calls than VIP service.

[00:53:08] Annie Sargent: I was working way, way, way too much when the only thing that you could book was the VIP service. Writing all those detailed itineraries was a ton of work. It was good work, but at times I felt like I was drowning and it got to be too much. So now, with the Bonjour Service, it’s cheaper for you, which is good, I guess.

[00:53:30] Annie Sargent: And also once I hang up, I’m pretty much done. I do send people more information, but I send them things I’ve already written and so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every single time. And if I don’t have it written already, you are going to have to do the Googling. But for the most part, I have a lot of stuff already written.

[00:53:51] Annie Sargent: So, keep booking the Bonjour service, I love it. I love talking to you, it’s wonderful.

Olympic News

[00:53:56] Annie Sargent: In short, Olympic News, you may have heard about the swimming events in the Seine. They had a triathlon in Paris today, and they swam in the Seine. They tested the water at 3:00 AM in the night, and gave the go ahead for today.

[00:54:13] Annie Sargent: Now the Paris region is building more retention basins around the city because when it rains more than normal, excess water goes into the Seine and that can increase pollutants and make the river unswimmable. By the Olympics this should not happen again, because there will be lots of basins retaining the water before anybody gets in there.

[00:54:37] Annie Sargent: And by the way, triathlon folks, they will swim anywhere. Unless somebody tells them there’s crocodiles in there, they’ll swim anywhere. They really are tough cookies. And no alligators in the Seine. No, we know that for sure.

Medical bills while in France

[00:54:51] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk briefly about incurring medical bills while in France.

[00:54:55] Annie Sargent: This has come up a couple of times recently, so it’s worth explaining. So if you need to be taken to the emergency room, if you need to see a doctor, you may have to pay something. Now, if you see a doctor face to face, General Practitioner or even a specialist, it’s normal in France to pay for that at the end of the visit.

[00:55:14] Annie Sargent: So the doctor will ask you for $25 or $50 or whatever the price is. Well, 55$ more is for a specialist and usually it’s $25 for a General Practitioner, which is incredibly cheap, okay? But if you go to the hospital and say they do a CAT scan, they do an ultrasound, they do whatever they x-rays, whatever they need to do, blood tests, well, you’re not going to get a bill for that.

[00:55:39] Annie Sargent: And even if you want a bill for that, they might not be able to give you one.

La Carte Vitale

[00:55:43] Annie Sargent: Because in France, if you’re French, you have this magic green card called La Carte Vitale, and it has a chip on there, and that chip has your insurance info. And so you hand the hospital your card, they run the card, done. And you may have to pay a little bit extra, but you’ll get the the bill in the mail.

[00:56:04] Annie Sargent: And so when they’re dealing with foreigners who don’t have that card, some hospitals know exactly what to do. They’ll just give you a bill that day. But some places they won’t do that. And so then they’ll send you a letter that says, oh, we need your health insurance information. And you’re like, well, but my insurance is not going to pay for this.

[00:56:23] Annie Sargent: Submit whatever health insurance information you have, it’s not going to fit in the French system. So they’ll say, oh, I give up, then pay the bill. And generally the bill, even if you had a CAT scan, even if you had an overnight stay in the hospital, you are not going to pay more than a thousand bucks. I mean, if you needed emergency surgery, it might, it will probably be more, but you know, healthcare is inexpensive compared to the US by like, it’s probably a hundred times cheaper. Okay?

[00:56:53] Annie Sargent: So don’t worry about it, but if possible, ask the hospital to provide you with a bill right away. But it goes completely against the grain for a French hospital to tell you, oh, you got to pay before you leave. They just don’t want to do that. To them, that feels like a racket. Okay. You were ill, we will not put pressure on you to pay right now.

[00:57:16] Annie Sargent: This is just a mentality. And so, insist a little bit to have that bill as soon as possible, or at least explain that your American Health Care system is not going to pay for this. Because it doesn’t. It just doesn’t. Or if it does, it’s so little money. You know, if they charge you $150 for something, your American Healthcare is going to say, what is this?

[00:57:38] Annie Sargent: Like, no, we don’t have a code for this, we don’t know. So just pay for it. Okay? And it’ll be easier. And hopefully, you are not going to need any of this and you’ll be fine. But one of the ladies who was at the bootcamp, Catherine, so she was perfectly fine during the bootcamp, and then she went to Paris and she felt sick in Paris and needed to go to an emergency room.

[00:57:58] Annie Sargent: So there you go. It happens. But she’s fine. She’s fine.

[00:58:01] Annie Sargent: My thanks to podcast editors Anne and Cristian Cotovan who produced the transcripts. Remember to search the website, all sorts of good stuff there.

Next week on the podcast

[00:58:11] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode about Surviving France with Erin Trindle. It’s funny because we had an episode about Why life is Awful in France, and now we do one about surviving France.

[00:58:25] Annie Sargent: You’re going to think that we really hate it there, which is not true. Thank you so much for listening, and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together.

[00:58:36] Annie Sargent: Au revoir!


[00:58:38] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2023 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons, attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives license.

*Colson Whitehead

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Category: French Culture