Vintage Cookbooks in Paris at le Bouquiniste Gastronomie

During a recent book event in Paris at a local bouquiniste, I met up with Alain Huchet, who sells an extraordinary selection of vintage cookbooks, menus, and gravures, all relating to the pleasures of food and wine.

cuisinebook Bernard Loiseau bonbonbook

Naturally, the selection is heavily tilted toward French gastronomy, and I was a kid in a confiserie when I began rifling through the stacks of books. I’ve seen some extraordinary collections of cookbooks; including a pretty good one I left behind : (

But if I had the space to start up again (and beaucoup de euros), this is where I’d start.

Still, looking is free, and look I did. I’m a sucker for any cookbook dedicated to candymaking, baking, and the pastry arts, especially the old French ones, with their faded colored pictures of giant, dinged-up copper pots, and heavily-sugared candies lined up, glacéed and frosted within an inch (or centimeter, I should say) of their lives.


The late Bernard Loiseau lives on here, smiling from the cover, and although Brasserie Lipp has a reputation for looking at guests with a bit of disdain, if you buy the Chez Lipp book, you don’t have to worry about eating your Île Flottante on a deserted table in Left Bank Siberia.

cuisineexotique cuisinebretonne lipp book

Because of the heavy foot traffic, and the value of some of the books (of the two that I wanted, one was €300, and the other, a nifty treatise on Breton cooking, was €80), the books are wrapped to protect them from damage. If interested, just ask and M. Huchet will open any up so you can get a better look.

The stand is open daily, normally in the afternoons, weather-permitting.

Alain Huchet
Quai Conti (facing the Hôtel de la Monnaie)
(Map)


Related Links

The Food Bouquiniste (Secrets of Paris)

Librarie Gourmande (Gastronomic Bookstore in Paris)

Bouquinistes sur les quais de Seine: Other booksellers who specialize in cookbooks

La Cocotte: Librarie de goût (Gastronomic Bookstore in Paris)

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32 comments

  • September 13, 2009 10:16am

    I’m all over this! I had seen the above article “The Food Bouquiniste” and immediately jotted it down for my next visit to Paris. In one month’s time, you’ll know where to find me! Either at this stand — or at A l’Etoile d’Or! I’m hoping the Bonbons & Sucreries book will still be there, and I’m also hoping it’s not one that costs over 100 Euros! My entire cookbook collection here consists of baking, candymaking, chocolate and vintage. Your posts so often seem to be just for me, thanks!! :)

  • September 13, 2009 10:24am

    I adore vintage and antique cookbooks – that was actually the first gift my husband ever gave me right after we first me, a cookbook from 1856.

    I imagine that it’s a good thing I’m in the US – otherwise I’d spend a pretty penny at that shop.

  • September 13, 2009 10:28am

    sweetbird: I love them too, especially the covers. He was kind enough to let me take a bunch of snapshots of the covers to share with folks. It is quite an impressive collection!

  • September 13, 2009 11:32am

    I love vintage cookbooks. Nothing beats a good browsing at the fle market.
    But a close second is getting a treasure on EBAY.

  • September 13, 2009 12:34pm

    I will certainly be on the lookout for this in December – thanks for posting, I never realised that there was a bouquiniste devoted to food books like that. Better start saving my sous!!!

  • September 13, 2009 12:59pm

    I cannot believe that in 16+ years of living in Paris (and many, many afternoons strolling the quais looking at books) I never came across this stall. David, you’ve done it again! And sadly I only found out once I am no longer a quick metro trip away – ARGGGHHH!!

  • September 13, 2009 1:06pm

    There used to be a wonderful shop like that in Pasadena/Altadena, California. No, really. I bought a beautiful first edition of the Auberge of the Flowering Hearth.

    That Breton cookbook might have *my* name on it, though – I’m craving buckwheat crepes for breakfast.

  • September 13, 2009 1:08pm

    Meg: Well, let’s just say at least you left a little bit richer ; 0

    Fiona: I LOVE that book. It’s one of my all-time favorite books about food. He was such an amazing writer, and that place sounded so lovely the way he described it. That reminds me that I need to read it again, soon…

  • Eliot
    September 13, 2009 1:57pm

    What a great day! Walking along the quays and looking at cherished old cookbooks. I love to go to second hand shops and let the book fall open to a favorite recipe. The prices are a bit steep, though. :-(

  • September 13, 2009 2:20pm

    Yes, this would be my candy store! I could spend an entire day browsing.

  • Mrs Redboots
    September 13, 2009 2:34pm

    The first cookbook I ever bought, way back in the early 1970s, was “La Cuisine en 10 minutes” by Edouard de Pomiane. I still own the English-language version which I found some years ago in a 2nd-hand bookshop here in England.

    And I still cook – often – according to its principles; after all, he was writing in the days before microwave ovens!

  • Robert Ruiz
    September 13, 2009 3:46pm

    Funny, I just popped into Omnivore Books in San Francisco for much the same fix. http://www.omnivorebooks.com/index.html I see you’ll be there on September 28th, David. If I don’t make it, have a wonderful time.

  • Wendy
    September 13, 2009 4:59pm

    Oh my. I collect vintage cookbooks, that shop sounds like a little bit of paradise! I’ll just have to console myself with the fact that I don’t speak French and wouldn’t be able to read the books even if I could get to Paris and get my hands on them. :)

  • September 13, 2009 5:45pm

    Oh man, this is the kind of place where I’d like to just stand in the middle of all the stacks and sort of cosmically absorb all the amazing information by osmosis.

    There is a place in SF called Omnivore Books that is also on this level–a postively glorious collection of new and vintage cookbooks. Swoon.

  • September 13, 2009 7:02pm

    Thanks for the tip! I too, have visited the Bookinistes for years but did not realize what cookbook treasures were at this particular one. I will go on Thursday, once again lamenting missing the book signing.

    Diane

  • September 13, 2009 7:40pm

    I cherish my vintage cookbooks and any ones that I can get my hands on! I had no idea some of those french ones cost such a glorious penny!!!

  • Nick Vanderknokke
    September 13, 2009 9:33pm

    Can you picture this – some enterprising idiots here in Canada have been taking vintage cookbooks and replacing most the the pages with blank sheets – the idea being that they then make great notebooks or personal recipe files. Imagine my chagrin and the difficulty keeping a semblance of gratitude on my face when I opened as a birthday gift, an historic Quebec ‘Mme Benoit’ which had been so egregiously defaced. arrggghhh!!

  • Linda H
    September 13, 2009 10:56pm

    I have an uneasy feeling that some of those “vintage” cookbooks are simply some of the older cookbooks on my shelves. How old is “vintage?” Myra Waldo’s 1960 “Complete Book of Gourmet Cooking For the American Kitchen” must qualify. The 2 volume “The Gourmet Cookbook” from Gourmet Magazine in1960 is vintage? Several of the Junior League cookbooks are almost that old, but I love them. They have great recipes. Do you use your old books?

  • September 13, 2009 11:42pm

    Brilliant! What I would like to know is – why can’t I lose weight in a bookstore? If you could – I would look like Posh Beckham!

  • Rachel
    September 14, 2009 12:23am

    Thanks so much for the tip – I must have walked past M. Huchet’s stand dozens of times, but better to find out late than never! I’ll be sure to visit next time I’m in Paris… that is, if I have any money left over after I visit the cookbook shop in Los Angeles of whose existence I’ve just learned (oh dear…)

  • Sarah
    September 14, 2009 12:34am

    I have a queer little passion for a certain type of vintage cookbook. And they are NEVER expensive :-) I have yet to find anyone else who shares this odd enjoyment.

    I love finding and reading fundraising cookbooks. The 70’s and early 80’s produced an abundance of them, mainly from the Southern states, but really from all over the US. They come from all sorts of charitable organizations and other groups raising funds for themselves or their cause. They are usually very basic books, often with plastic ring binders. Everything about them reads to a very specific time and place, a veritable buffet of Americana. I rarely try any of the recipes, they are often way more enjoyable to read than to eat. The abundance of ketchup, Jello, and Miracle Whip alone could break your heart.

    On the other hand, I do LOVE a great tuna noodle casserole followed by a Jello mold so spectacular it requires sunglasses :-)

  • Robert Ruiz
    September 14, 2009 1:34am

    For those in/visiting New York you can get your fix here: http://www.kitchenartsandletters.com/

  • September 14, 2009 2:15am

    Rachel: If you’re thinking of Cook’s Library in Los Angeles, they unfortunately closed a few months ago.

    Sarah: Actually, it’s good to collect something few others collect; more for you! (And I love tuna casserole, although am not that big on Jello molds…)

    Robert: That is an amazing bookstore. There’s also the shop of Bonnie Slotnick as well.

    Linda: I do use my old cookbooks, but mostly for ideas. Anything with color pictures or drawings, and candymaking or baking, is a plus!

    Diane: Yes, do stop by. It’s very interesting–you might want to visit the other ones listed in the post I linked to at the end, as well.

    Shauna: I’m doing an event this month (on my Schedule page) at Omnivore. Looking forward to it~

  • ritanyc
    September 14, 2009 9:02am

    David, I’m so sorry that I will miss you in SF later this month. I hope you have a fantastic trip and I know the Bay Area is waiting to show you a whole lot of love. Please come to NYC soon!

  • September 14, 2009 10:20am

    Collected a few cookbooks at a yard sale this weekend. Looking to showcase all my cookbooks in my newly “revived” kitchen. I would love this bookstore!

    BTW-The Sweet Life is delightful so far-I laughed so hard reading about your childhood squid trauma (sorry) then had to re-read aloud to my husband. Thanks David!

    Thanks! So glad you like the book. And I hope you were laughing with me…not at me! ; ) -dl

  • Robert Ruiz
    September 14, 2009 11:25am

    David:

    Thanks for Bonnie Slotnick. Not sure how I missed that (I left New York in October of 2003). Other old favorites in the area:

    Doma Café & Gallery
    17 Perry Street (at 7th Avenue)
    New York, NY 10014
    (212) 929-4339
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/doma-cafe-and-gallery-new-york

    Le Gamin
    30 Downing Street
    New York, NY 10014
    (646) 654-6685
    (And other locations around New York)
    http://www.legamin.com/LE_GAMIN.html
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/le-gamin-new-york-3

    Magnolia Bakery
    401 Bleecker Street (between 11th Street & Perry Street)
    New York, NY 10014
    (212) 462-2572
    http://www.magnoliacupcakes.com
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/magnolia-bakery-new-york

    McNulty’s Coffee & Tea
    109 Christopher Street
    (between Bedford and Bleecker streets)
    New York, NY 10014-4204
    (212) 242-5351
    http://www.mcnultys.com
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/mcnultys-tea-and-coffee-co-new-york

    Paris Commune
    99 Bank Street
    New York, NY
    (212) 929-0509
    http://www.pariscommune.net
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/paris-commune-new-york

  • oakjoan
    September 14, 2009 2:43pm

    Wow! I’ve never heard of anybody but myself who’d ever heard of Auberge of the Flowing Hearth by Roy Andries de Groot. I bought it years ago and have read and re-read it. What a wonderful book. He makes the reader feel as if he/she is sitting in by the fireplace in this wonderful auberge in the mountains. It was nearby the monastery where the monks make Chartreuse.

  • September 14, 2009 3:10pm

    Did you spend some euros ?? ;-)

  • September 14, 2009 3:19pm

    Babeth: Rien! I have no room for any more books, but I hope to find a bigger place soon, to hold everything I need/want.

    oakjoan: I love that book. And it’s amazing that de Groot was blind. He seemed like such an interesting character, as well as the women he profiled in that book. It really is one of my top three food books of all time. I love the stories, and the aplomb where he describes recipes for green beans cooked with lots of butter, then egg yolks and cream whisked in at the end. Oof!

    It was such a different era…and the Chartreuse!

  • September 15, 2009 12:54am

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful address! My curiosity is definitely piqued by the one entitled: La Cuisine Exotique Erotique Insolite.

  • September 15, 2009 3:06am

    Antique.
    Cook.
    Books.

    (faint)

  • September 16, 2009 2:47pm

    My vision of heaven includes a large pile of vintage cookbooks.