I recently returned from a trip to Paris. While this wasn’t my first visit to the city, it was no less inspiring. Paris is a long-standing oasis for most of the arts. Cartooning is no different. For those not familiar with the Franco-Belgium style of comics (bande dessinée) I urge you to do a little Wikipedia research.
I probably read just as many European comics as I do American nowadays. It’s something I’ve been following for about 10 years. I’m extremely happy that North American publishers like Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, First Second, and others have been translating and publishing many of these books in English in recent years. It’s important for cartoonists to be exposed to other work that’s being created at this very moment thousands of miles away.
I did some research before my first trip to Paris. What are the best BD stores in the city? It was the dead of winter and I walked as much as I was physically able to find each shop on the list. What I found was some of the most vibrant stores with deep stock I could have dreamed about. Many of these stores are mentioned in a blog post I found invaluable on my first trip.
On this recent trip, I was mentally prepared. I told myself I would not be overwhelmed as I had been before. I came with a list of addresses and a list of books I was searching for. While I stopped at about 8 stores, the following were the best-of-the-best on this trip:
Les Super Héros
175 rue Saint Martin 75003 Paris
This is my absolute favorite comic shop in Paris. It has a small, record store feel, but every book they carry is well-curated. Every inch is utilized, but not in a hoarding way. Books are presented with care. They also have a section of ex-libris (signed tip-in plate editions) that cost the same an unsigned books. One thing I’ve never seen anywhere is that they have their latest releases by the front door stacked on the floor at least 3 feet high!
2 rue Dante 75005 Paris
This store is for the collector. They have many out-of-print books as well as original art. Tons of Tin Tin material. I picked up two Tardi albums from the late 70s here.
20 boulevard Saint Michel 75006 Paris
One third comic shop, one third record store, one third video store, Boulinier is a big, multi-story location that has a great selection of comics. The shelves are packed with albums and you might luck into hard to find book here.
8 rue Dante 75005 Paris
The smallest shop I visited, Aaapoum Bapoum, has two locations within blocks of each other. One carries BD and American imports (shown above) and the other is their discount store with lots of marks downs (in the alley to the right of Boulinier).
84 Boulevard Saint-Germain 75005 Paris
Album has two locations in one intersection across the street from each other. One carries North American imports, figures, and merchandise (ie. very much like a U.S. comic store). The other (shown above) carries European work. Go downstairs to find a deep selection of work grouped by author.