What do you get when you marry a sailor and a book buyer? A book barge, naturally. Named after a philosophical work by Gaston Bachelard published in 1942, couple project L’eau et les rêves launched briefly in April 2014 but was then obliged by the bylaws of the Paris canals to travel for a few months before returning to its habitual mooring on Quai de l’Oise in September. This second, more established opening gives it a chance to make a name for itself, as well it should.
Unlike British narrowboats, a Parisian péniche glories in space, and the team behind this floating library, café and activity centre have embraced the nautical theme with fabulous results. There’s a kids area, theatre workshops, talks and signings, and a set of bouquiniste-style wooden stalls for second-hand books on the upper deck. There are portholes, and ships in bottles, and maps and fascinating curved wooden furniture, and a general sense of wellbeing brought about by people doing what they love and having lots of fun with it. Seafaring subjects lend a salty taste to most of the shelves – volumes on pirates, sea monsters, beachcombing, and more can be found in the comic books, poetry, fiction, travel and history sections. But there are also lots of mainstream titles and new works – this is far from a niche enterprise. At the time of writing most volumes were in French, but they have a fascinating selection available to order in English and are happy to take suggestions and requests. Even if they don’t have what you’re looking for, it’s more than worth a visit.
|Venue name:||L’eau et les rêves|
Quai de l'Oise
|Opening hours:||Wed-Sun and public holidays, 1pm-7pm|