Esquelbook, “Esquelbecq, Book Town” association website
What is a Book Town ?
The concept has been created in 1964, by Richard Booth, in Hay-on-Wye, Wales. He suggests a model example and sustainable rural and touristic development, which has since been adopted in several countries like Belgium and Germany.
According to Richard Booth definition, a Book Town is " the setting-up, in an populated area situated in a picturesque or tourist region, of professionals whose main activity is based on old and second-hand books trade, old engravings, and other related fields, such as bookbinders, gilders, framers, paper makers, traditional printing houses,… ".
These villages welcomes, in a rural or historic setting, several book professional. To that may be added events and activities organized that enable each village to radiate widely and attract visitors on site from all backgrounds, which inevitably impacts on the cultural and economic life of the region.
Why a Book Town in Esquelbecq?
For Evelyne Valois, current president of the association "Esquelbecq, Book Town ", while reading an article in a French Hunting magazine in October, 2006, about the birth of Fontenoy-la-Joûte Book village, she decides to take the plunge and create a book town in Esquelbecq. The inspiration was here to marry old stones and old books in Esquelbecq.
To realize what represents effectively such a project, she organizes in January, 2007, a visit to Redu, book town nestled in the heart of the Belgian Ardennes forest since 1984, with about ten persons already very interested by the concept. Ten days later, a working group is formed and gives birth to the association “Esquelbecq, Book Town”.
The town council, favourable to the project, offers to rent available premises allowing several booksellers to move in. Things start to move quickly, teams are formed to find financing and fundraising, others to find professionals who would subscribe to the project.
Since that day, passionate are always present and they are, each year, more and more numerous in defending “Esquelbecq, Book Town” and striving so it becomes: THE book town of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Region but also THE only Book Town in the North of Paris.
Esquelbecq is a village which knew how to preserve its rural character while being very active. Bathed by Yser River and lined with oaks, it possesses a remarkable architectural heritage (listed as "Village Patrimoine" in 2009) and in particular a castle classified as a Historical Monument in 1987. The church a hallekerque type, as for it, is listed at the inventory of Historical monuments since 1945. Three chapels complete this architectural set and increase the character of this Flemish village. A site of memory "La Plaine au bois" also reminds that during the Second World War, men fought to repel the Nazis enemy and were massacred there.
Going by Esquelbecq is enough to understand that the village corresponds entirely to the definition that Richard Booth makes of a Book Town.