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culture

Toronto’s Last French-Language Bookshop Is Going out of Business

On July 22, Yorkville's Maison de la Presse Internationale will be closing its doors for good.

Google Street View.

For 10 years, Maison de la Presse Internationale has been offering patrons a wide selection of both international magazines and French-language titles from its home at 99 Yorkville Avenue. After long-established French-language bookstore Librairie Champlain closed in 2009, Maison de la Presse became the only place in the city readers could go to browse an extensive collection of French-language titles—one that occupied its entire second floor.

But now the store’s 10-year lease is up, and the decision has been made to close for good. “This is the end of the road for us,” said long-time manager Cathy Ola. “I’m sorry madame, I’m sorry monsieur, but it’s happening.” Yorkville has changed, she added. “I used to love it—we’d open until 11, 12 at night. Now, it’s not that busy anymore, especially since the Film Festival is gone, and the Four Seasons has moved.” Shoppers were once common even late in the evening, but “the people who live in condos,” she says, “they don’t shop.”

Where will book-lovers be able pick up a copy of the latest French bestseller now? There’s always the online option, of course, says Ola. “But ordering online, there won’t be the interaction. This has been my second family apart from home.”

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