On the fringes of one of Europe’s largest population areas, you would never expect to find somewhere abandoned. Yet, here it is. A town most residents have left thanks to the expansion of the nearby Charles de Gaulle Airport (and the neverending noise of overhead planes). Welcome to Goussainville- Vieux Pays, a suburban Parisian ghost town complete with its own ruined mansion house and still in operation bookshop, Librairie Goussainlivres!
Librairie Goussainlivres: A Quirky Second Hand Bookshop in a Suburban Parisian Ghost Town
Situated in a 19th-century former home, the bookstore of Goussainlivres was opened in March 1997 with a vision to further expand more quirky and unique bookshops into nearby homes. The idea came from the beautiful book town of Wales, Hay-on-Wye, a once declining market town which has since been brought back to life by tourism and is well worthy of a visit on any Welsh adventure!
The concept was that much of the town, which lies around 25 kilometres away from Paris, would be transformed into a French book village, thus bringing more visitors, jobs, and tourism to the area. The project was to be led by Mr. Philippe Ferry, a bookseller in the nearby town of Auvers-Sur-Oise (a French commune that’s worth visiting and is the final resting place of Vincent Van Gogh).
Unfortunately, the project fell through and only one bookshop was ever opened, that which you see today. The name of ‘Goussainlivres’ itself is a play on words; while Goussainville is the name of the town, ‘livres’ in French can simply be translated as ‘books’.
Librairie Goussainlivres opening times | Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 11:00 – 17:00 (closed February & August)
Today, bookkeeper Nicolas takes care of well over 700 metres of shelving, filled with books ranging on topics from everything about life in Paris, to gardening! Rare and unique tomes sit side by side on shelf upon shelf of any bibliophile’s dream destination.
Books are arranged thematically into sections such as Literature, Poetry, Theater, Literary Studies, Fine Books, Comics, History, Eroticism, Stories of adventure and travel, Politics, and there are books at many different price points. New works can also be ordered upon special request, with the exception of school books!
Elsewhere in the city, there are plenty of things to see and do in Goussainville. While the town was largely abandoned following the expansion of Charles de Gaulle airport around forty years ago, residents have started to move back in trickle by trickle. That being said, the mansion house and main town church remain abandoned to this day.
Château of Goussainville: Situated in its own green space, the French château at Goussainville must have been incredibly sumptuous during its heyday. Though it’s since lost its floor and much of its roof, the mansion house was first constructed for Monsieur Théodore Frapart in the 19th-century and was built on the site of a former castle.
14th-century Church of Saint-Paul & Saint-Peter: The boarded-up church in the heart of the village underwent a massive renovation project in 2010. For some reason, however, the ecclesiastical building remains closed to the public to this day. Behind the church, the crumbling graveyard is sadly dilapidated.
Goussainville: It’s important to distinguish the city of Goussainville from that of Goussainvile-Vieux Pays. While the former town is a newly built settlement and is not under any flight path, it is the old town which really draws you in.
If you don’t have access to a car, then regular trains run to Goussainville (ReR D Gare de Goussainville). From the station, it’s around a twenty-minute walk to the Vieux Village, where Librairie Goussainlivres is located.