PARIS (AP) — A bookshop owner has found a way to keep people in Paris feeling plush during the depressing days of the coronavirus pandemic: giant teddy bears.
Philippe Labourel has been lending out oversized stuffed animals since October 2018. Since the pandemic cut short public life in the French capital last year, the bookseller’s bears have been spotted sitting at a bus stop and in shops to remind customers of social distancing rules.
“Don’t ask me why I did it in the first place, but I decided to loan the bears everywhere to make people smile,” Labourel said.
At up to 2.5-meters-tall (over 8 feet), the teddy bears cause people to stop and stare in wonder.
Labourel’s bookshop and “bear cave,” is situated in the Gobelins district, in the south of Paris. The bear-giver maintains a mysterious air to add to the unexpected delight that comes with encountering one of his cuddly creatures.
He said he has acquired many more bears since last year, but will not say from where or how many make up his soft arsenal.
“Since the virus, I’ve been giving them out to many areas across the city,” Labourel said. “I’m trying to give children a little bit of joy. It’s a huge success.”