3 September 2017

Émile Decroix, 15e arrondissement, Paris

106 rue Brancion, 15e arrondissement.

Propagateur de la viande de cheval

Émile Decroix was a military veterinary surgeon most noted for his advocacy of eating horse meat, on which he published a number of papers. His impressive busts stands very close to the Parc George Brassens, on the site of abattoirs. He is less known for his anti-smoking papers.

While on the subject of this site, I must mention that a few yards away, where the abattoirs used to be, is the Marché du livre, where a number of booksellers display their wares on weekends. I first learned of this space in Edmund White's The Flâneur, and had to visit. I've now been at least three times, but never again, as I've never bought a single book. It's not just some booksellers' steep prices: it's much more than that. A few years ago I saw a video of the place on YouTube, in which a bookseller mocks a previous visitor who asked him if he sells books: his sarcastic reply is that no, he simply took the trouble of driving his books a fair distance and then displayed them here to give them an airing. I found this funny at the time, and obviously the visitor was an idiot, right? Far from it, as I found out: she was the sarcastic one, and the guy who thought he was so smart just wasn't smart at all. The times I went to Rue Brancion I saw several books I wanted to buy, but no one appeared to be selling: you can usually find booksellers stuffing their faces, opening bottles of wine and chatting to other booksellers, but usually there is no one in sight to take your money from you. I'd have felt a little stupid waving a book in the air trying to attract an unknown seller's attention. I've come to a conclusion: the last thing in the world here that most booksellers want to do is to have anyone take their precious books from them. Go to the nearest vide-grenier, Boulinier, Gibert Joseph, Gibert Jeune, the bouquinistes, even the dreaded fnac, but leave this place well alone and let the guys drink their wine in peace!


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