Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend two fairs (or ‘salons’ as they call them in France), one for my own interest and the other for work. Le Salon du Livre or Book Fair was on in the Porte de Versailles and has received constant media coverage since opening on the 20th March. I decided to set aside a good two and a half hours to explore this fair for the first time and that was just about enough. The Salon du Livre is more than just a book fair as it groups bookworms, authors, publishers, and those with special interests such as cuisine, comic books and art under one roof. Upon entering the exhibition space, I was rather overwhelmed by the size of the space (in technical terms, it’s HUGE) and the amount of books everywhere, from every theme, author, nationality etc. To put it short I was a kid in a sweet shop…or more simply, myself in a giant book shop!
Particular highlights for me were the destination stands such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia who each had their own space dedicated to authors from those regions as well as cookbooks and “beaux livres” or beautifully illustrated coffee table books. There was also an exhibition area dedicated to the French author and illustrator Sempé who is best known for children’s series Le Petit Nicolas but has also illustrated for The New Yorker. His works were on display as well as some “beaux livres” and charming postcards with magical illustrations of Paris and New York. The ‘gastronome’ section was a particular delight as there were great bargains to be found among recipe books. I picked up a book by Elle à table on roasts, which I will now put to use after finally buying a mini-oven just a fortnight ago. It was also interesting to see a number of independent publishers and e-publishers there promoting their services to budding writers. With the emergence of electronic reading devices and the internet as means of discovering new authors, it is definitely encouraging to see the available options for when I finally get round to writing my book.
Bargain at just €6!
Whilst I didn’t see the point in buying books for the sake of it at the fair (especially as many were not at reduced price) I did buy a second book on home beauty remedies which can be made with stuff lying in your kitchen cupboard.
Straight after the Salon du Livre, I made my way across to the Salon du Tourisme (France’s largest holiday show) for work purposes. This was my second year to take part but has never felt like work to me. I relish in the opportunity to speak face to face with the public and encourage them to visit our beautiful country. It also provides me with the chance to visit other stands and plan my own holiday wish list. I love seeing the other stands such as those North African countries where there is live music and people in traditional clothing and the chance to taste world delicacies such as baklava and delicious mint tea!
This week the Salon du Dessin will open in Paris on the 26th of March and although pricey (€15 entry) it is only once a year and as drawings are my most favourite aspect of visual art, I am eager to go and see what kind of creative inspiration it may bring.