Here, as promised—and only two months late!— is a whirlwind tour of the Salon du Livre at Montreuil, which I attended back in early December.
Entrance: this image, which could be seen all over Paris in the run-up to the Salon, is by the lovely Charlotte Gastaut.
Here is an overview of the Salon, looking uncharacteristically calm and sedate. In reality, it is wall-to-wall people, including eleventy million roaring children, on school trips or family outings, or just hoping to meet their favourite author. In this aspect, the salon at Montreuil differs from the one at Bologna, which (I'm told) is open only to professionals.
Founded 26 years ago, the Salon has grown in both size and reputation —this time, there were about 350 maisons d'éditions (publishing houses, large and small) present — mainly French (or from francophone countries) — and spread out on three floors.
As well as selling books, their stands also serve as meeting points for writers, illustrators, editors, art directors and publishers. Some of them are mini-gallery spaces, featuring originals, prints and posters from their illustrators, like the one above from the wonderful publishing house Rue du Monde. And—not least— there are signings and reading, where the authors and artists meet their adoring public face to face! But more on that in a future post...
If you are an illustrator, you're most likely at the salon to show your work. There is the infamous Rencontres D.A. (above, left) which can be a bit of a mêlée: 20-25 art directors (in a small space) do their best to see as many hopeful artists as they can at something like 20-minute intervals. This must be arranged (in writing) long in advance. The alternative is to take your chances and find an art director at the stand (above, right) who will sit down briefly to look at your portfolio and chat with you.
Of course there is more to the salon at Montreuil than publishers' stands. From art exhibits to workshops and signings, and even a film festival, there is always something to catch your eye and engage your mind—but more on all that in a future post(s)! All in all, the whole experience is inspiring, exhilarating...and exhausting. When you come home with the huge pile of catalogues that you will have gathered, you can both prolong the experience and rest your feet!