La Galcante: A papery, Parisian portal to the past

French publications from La Galcante

If you are remotely nerdy or wordy, please keep reading.

Imagine the scents of old newsprint, musty book bindings, and dust, all rolled together. That’s the intoxicating smell of old words.

Boyfriend Perspective: What’s “printed” media and how do I get it from my phone? Is there an app for it?

Now, imagine what a shop permeated with that smell would look like. Voilá, La Galcante.

Thanks to some miscommunications around what our next destination should be, Luke urged us off the metro a stop or two early, so we figured we’d hoof it to La Galcante. It was 80+ degrees (F), and the parts of the 1st arrondissement we walked through were extremely urban and very, very sunny.

Boyfriend Perspective: “Miscommunications” -_-

By the time we turned up at La Galcante’s lovely little hiding place, we were both a sweaty, very unglamorous mess.

But all that went completely out of mind when we walked in.


The shop around the… alley

That wordy smell hits you as soon as you pass the threshold. And what you see are stacks and Sharpie labeled boxes – floor to ceiling – of French publications of all ages. One of shelf, I sorted through a stack of ladies’ magazines from the 1910s and 1920s, while Luke dragged down a cardboard box of publications relating to Star Wars.

Boyfriend Perspective: So, that box was incredibly heavy and full of all printed media relating to Star Wars. This was just one of probably a hundred or more others of various categories in the shop. Some categories had multiple boxes to look through. Thankfully, they have long tables, also covered with boxes and media, that you can use to sort through your bounty a bit easier.

There was another young woman with earbuds in, sitting cross-legged in the middle of an aisle, sorting through one of the mid-century boxes. She scooted things out of the way so I could get to a small magazine with “naughty” stories. Luke and I had a laugh as I translated it.

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Suddenly, a blonde toddler came squealing down one of the side aisles with her maman in close pursuit. Mum opened up the shop’s office, and offered Luke a folding chair because he looked tired.


Buying history

It was almost impossible not to lose track of time (minutes? decades? eh?) in the little shop, but I managed to wrap it up, knowing that we had to go get ready for dinner.

Boyfriend Perspective: This was one of those places I knew we would spend a long time, but damn did she take forever. I’ve never been so thankful for a chair in my life.

When I couldn’t find prices on the two pieces I wanted – a heavily stylized David Bowie cover from 1985 as a souvenir for my dad, and a 1920s ladies’ magazine with fantastic cover art for me – I flagged down the proprietors to ask for help.

Jacques, the proprietor, stepped out of the office, thumbed through both pubs, and rattled off prices. At €26 for both, I think I got a deal.

He let me into their back room so I could wash the newsprint and dust off my hands, then walked us to the door.

He introduced himself, gave me a flyer with contact info, and offered to help with any questions we may have about books and such, in Paris or anywhere. We shook hands, and left to get prepped for dinner.


Final thoughts

I was so happy, I almost forgot to take a picture!

If you love anything literary or pop culture-y, or just want to see part of Paris that most other folks don’t, visit La Galcante. Or don’t… that way, there’ll be plenty of cool stuff waiting for us when we go back 😉

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Also published on Medium.

16 Replies to “La Galcante: A papery, Parisian portal to the past”

  1. You had me at “nerdy or wordy”! I would love to visit there and look through all the prints. I love vintage stuff like that.

    1. Hahah a traveler after my own heart 🙂 you’ll get a heck of a deal too. One of the cool things, too, is that it’s not just newspapers and magazines. Posters, photographic plates, etc. So. Flippin. Cool!

  2. This is so cool. I love finds like this! Older ephemera can be incredible to look through.

    1. 100%! I was so stoked to find this place. And a 1913 magazine for €20?? COME ON 😀

  3. Definitely sounds like a fascinating diversion. Paris is filled with so many of them! 🙂

    1. I loved every second… and Luke was very patient 😉 can’t wait to find other places like that on our next trip!

  4. I know exactly what wordy scent you mean. This little shop was such a great find! Totally worth getting off the metro a couple stops early, I think. 😉

    1. It was 100% worth the stop 🙂 it was also one of the few places either of us purchased souvenirs (rather than relying on our photos) and I have zero regrets!

  5. How cool! I love visiting unique places like that!

    1. Window right into the past 🙂

  6. What a unique little place! I love getting lost and stumbling upon finds like this! Its what travel is all about!

    1. No kidding! They’re the best part of travel, for sure. You never know what you’re going to find 🙂

  7. Love the boyfriend perspective!!

    1. I enjoy his perspective, too 😉 thank you!

  8. Sounds like a treasure trove! I like shops like that and don’t get to visit them enough. Will keep this place in mind for sure. Thanks for the tip!

    1. Definitely do! Would love to hear your take on it if you do make it there 🙂

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