One of the rare trade shows in the French capital to attract both the general public and professionals, the Festival du Livre/Paris Book Fair (formerly the Salon du Livre) brings dozens of renowned authors and thousands of visitors under a single roof each year in early spring to celebrate literature and literary trends.
Fans of anything from bestsellers to genre fiction, graphic novels to poetry and literary fiction will all find something of interest at this enormous show.
If you have kids traveling with you, not to worry about keeping them interested and happy: every year there’s a section devoted especially to the best books for children, along with special events and storytelling sessions for budding readers.
And while a good percentage of the literary fare is in French, there’s still plenty for English speakers and readers to enjoy.
The fair generally has a specific theme each year, focusing on the literature of a particular region or country and allowing visitors to get familiar with important literary movements and publishing trends.
It’s not just a French-centric affair, either: in past years the Salon du Livre (the predecessor of the current event) has spotlighted literature from Asia, South America, Canada and Russia, making it a truly global event.
Why to Go?
Whether you’re an unabashed book nerd or a casual before-bed consumer of novels, this fair is a great way to soak in some Parisian (and global) culture, far from the usual tourist track.
It’s a great opportunity to discover a few up-and-coming authors, pick up gifts for bibliophile friends and family, see some interesting readings and talks and perhaps even get a beloved edition signed by a favorite author.
And if you’re a literary agent, author, translator or other professional working in the publishing industry, it of course goes without saying that this event is a big one on your annual calendar: the place and time to mingle with like-minded professionals and even make deals with authors or publishing houses.
Festival du Livre 2023: Program and Guest Authors
The second edition of the Paris Festival du Livre runs from April 21st through April 23rd, 2023 at the Grand Palais Ephémère, with Italy and Italian literature in the spotlight. More information on the program will be published at a later date.
As always, this year’s show will focus on numerous additional genres and themes in addition to the headlining one. In 2020, visitors can browse stands and “stages” dedicated to general novels, mysteries/ crime fiction, essays, graphic novels/manga and comics, and children’s/young adult literature.
On the “main stage”, some 60 guest authors are expected to attend this year, giving readings and book signings. In addition, the program will include lectures on current and historic literature, debates, special literary quizzes and numerous other events.
For the full program, including a list of featured authors and book signings this year, check the official website in early 2023..
Tips for Making the Most of the Fair
In a few words: avoid getting overwhelmed by pacing yourself. The event and venue is generally is enormous; I can advise from firsthand experience that you’ll burn out if you try to see too much in too short a period.
Peruse the program ahead of time and pick out a couple of sections, talks and authors that interest you the most, and try to focus on those.
I can almost guarantee you that you’ll find yourself feeling overwhelmed and even irritated if you try to gulp everything in at once. Schedule in a lunch or coffee break: after all, it’ll give you a breather to leaf through a new book or take a closer look at the program.
Finally, if you can manage to go on Friday or Monday rather than over the weekend, you’ll likely find the crowds to be thinner and the lines for book signings and other events a bit shorter.