Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Cat Sleeps in La Charite-sur-Loire

Since the Parisian bookkeepers with their colorful storefronts and pictorial names like "Le monde a l'envers" (The Backwards World), "La, ou dort le chat," (There Where the Cat Sleeps), and "Les palmiers sauvages" (The Wild Palms) have moved in, the number of tourists visiting La Charite-sur-Loire has risen dramatically. With 30 times as many books as people, the La Charite-sur-Loire has certainly earned the title "city of books," which has been proclaimed from the town sign for the past six years. Fittingly, regular book sales are held in the center on the third Sunday of every month. There's also a festival of words in August, an internationally known salon of old books in July and a book art fair in May.
When Valleriaux and his wife opened their Bordeaux-colored shop in 1992, the medieval village looked completely different. Most of the shops were empty; there weren't any cafes or art galleries.
"The city, especially the lower part, was completely dead," Valleriaux said.
After a year, the couple had had enough. They needed customers and the town was in need of tourists, so they convinced the mayor to support their plan to turn La Charite-sur-Loire into the city of books.
As an expert in old manuscripts, Valleriaux had worked in Parisian auction house Drouot and his contacts proved valuable. In 1996 he founded the salon for old books. Four years later, the Rue du Pont was lined with bustling cafes, gourmet boutiques, a wine shop -- and lots of book stores. (read more>>)

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