PARIS NEWSPAPER KIOSKS

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Zinc top …

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Lovely kiosque Quai de Conti

Wandering about Paris I get fixated on many different things.

The possibilities are endless for hijacking the eye (and soul) to various subjects, profoundly picturesque and human all at once. That’s Paris for you.

Today it was the delightful Kiosques de Presse stopping me in my tracks for some time – invariably referred to here as Presse Kiosques or Kiosques de Marchand de Journaux (newspaper selling stands) … or just simply kiosques. Problem is that there are – or were – kiosques of many kinds confetti’ng the streets and squares of Paris – kiosques à musique – musical bandstands – and kiosques  Glacière – icecream stalls.

And there still are – only they don’t have quite the same pulling power, aesthetically speaking.

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The exquisitely decorated Kiosques Presses are just one of Paris’s well-preserved exceptions. They sprung up in the Haussmann era of Paris modernisation in the 1850s. When La Ville Lumiere came alive, Lit up on the global stage.

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Haussmann era kiosque – and buildings

Newspapers were previously sold by vagrant sellers outside taverns and gardens. The opening of the first kiosk must have turned heads on Paris’s Grands Boulevards when it opened in 1857.
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It was relatively makeshift compared to the classical model which emerged a couple of years later – the octagonal oak kiosque, zinc domed and mounted by a spire.

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Kiosque Quai de Branly 1930s

Today there are 780 stalls nationwide – more than half of them in Paris, making them a veritable Parisian icon. (Some are decidedly modern and others are mere replicas).

The kiosks have also become a veritable business – managed by Mediakiosk which pumps money into their restoration – a worthy cause on top of trying to keep press traditions alive.  It calls them “a symbol of the press and a mirror of time”, as well as a public service.

The kiosques are always there – in Paris by night, and Paris black and white. Let’s hope they always will be for the enjoyment of all.

“Presse en crise” (in France as elsewhere) – does that boil down to kiosques en crise … that is the question?  … So far they have held up better than the traditional press – at least in structure.

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Patronage of them was flagged around the world in January with the queues lining up, from the crack of dawn, to get the first post-Charlie Hebdo attack edition of the revue.

I love queuing at the Kiosque – it’s one of the small pleasures that put a big zing of delight in French daily life. Hardly matched by virtual media purchase and consumption.

Clearly there’s a place for both. Many pundits including members of the World Association of Newspapers & News Publishers WAN-IFRA are currently noting a strong return to traditional publishing.

… There’s nothing quiet like grabbing hold of a ‘real’ newspaper is there (for a non-virtual breakfast).

So the kiosques may yet prove to be far more than a charming anachronism – but an enduring symbol of a back-to-the-future press.

Bonne ballade, bonne lecture – et vive la liberté de la presse.

JE SUIS CHARLIE!

JeSuisCharlie

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