The Paris Book Fair (Salon du Livre): Why to Visit & Program for 2020

An author signs a book for a reader at the Salon du Livre in Paris (Paris Book Fair)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Sadly, due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis in France and around the world, Salon du Livre 2020 has been cancelled for safety reasons.) 

One of the rare trade shows in the French capital to attract both the general public and professionals, the annual Salon du Livre/Paris Book Fair 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.

Read related: How to Make Your Spring Trip to Paris Enchanting (& Keep it Real)

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 show 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.

Salon du Livre 2020: Program and Guest Authors

The 40th edition of the Paris Salon du Livre runs from March 20th through March 23rd, 2020. This year, India and Indian literature are in the spotlight. 

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.

Related: What’s New to See & Do in Paris in 2020? 

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, see this page

Tips for Making the Most of the Fair

In a few words: avoid getting overwhelmed by pacing yourself. The Porte de Versailles Convention center 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.

Related: The 10 Best Things to Do in Paris For First-Timers

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.

Practical Details and Buying Tickets:

Salon du Livre Paris Porte de Versailles

  • Dates: Friday, March 15h through Monday, March 18th, 2019
    Location: Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, Pavillion 1, Boulevard Victor, 15th arrondissement
    Metro/Tram: Porte de Versailles (line 12) or Balard (Line 8). You can also take tramway Line 2T or 3A, descending at the Porte de Versailles station.
    How to buy tickets, and how much they cost: Ticket prices for adults in 2020 are 8 Euros. Entrance is generally free for children under 18. There’s also a reduced-price entry fee for students under 26 with a valid student ID and .
  • View the complete program and buy tickets online at the official website

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