Visiting Bibliothèque Nationale de France?

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France, France's national library, lies within the second arrondissement and contains all publications in France much like the Library of Congress functions for the United States. Within the royal library established by Charles V, when he received an accumulation of manuscripts from John II (his predecessor) this institution were only available in 1368. They were initially housed in the Louvre, and extended through the years, before being delivered to England in 1424. The books amazingly were not destroyed during the French Revolution as the French First Republic actually saved more than 300,000 volumes before offically nationalizing the library in 1792. Napoleon extended the library even more, when Napoleon took control of France. Napoleon wanted all publications and books in France} be delivered to the institution. Unfortuanately during World War II, many books were seized by the occupying Germans, and others went missing during the war. Tales are often told of the heroic efforts of French librarians to preserve many of these books, particularly those banned by the Nazis who deemed them 'Entartete' or deficient. Bibliothèque Nationale de FranceInspite of the great danger to themselves, several were able to slip books to French prisoners of war as well as other French citizens. Most of the books are now to be found in the modern twin buildings, but the buildings along the Rue de Richelieu in the 1st and 2nd arrondissements also contain a sizeable portion of its collection.

The French National Library's Collection Details

The following video does a great job of contrasting the somewhat uninviting and official looking exterior of the building (watch out for ice on the walkway during winter!) with the warm interior of the building that features people in love with books and learning:

 For music lovers, the center also includes thousands of recordings, supplemented by over 250,000 more from other libraries. Bibliothèque Nationale de France is also part of Europeana, the European electronic library which includes numerous digitized documents. You can even buy reproductions of books, manuscripts, maps, and musical notations, along with musical recordings. The Bibliothèque Nationale de France contains in its collection over ten million volumes. The center houses a digital library known as Gallica contains
  • 1,800,000 documents
  • 800,000 newspapers and magazines
  • 500,000 images
  • 400,000 books
  • 40,000 maps
  • 20,000 manuscripts
  • 7,000 sheets of music

Getting to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France is open every Monday from 2pm to 7pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 7pm, and on Sundays from 1pm to 7pm. It is also closed on January 1, Easter Sunday and Monday, May 1 and 8, Ascension Thursday, Pentecost Sunday and Monday, July 14, August 15, November 1 and 11, and December 25. During renovations, the François Mitterand Library can be accessed using the Western entrance (Hall Ouest) accessible from the Quai F. Mauriac on the side facing the Seine river. To get to the BNF by subway, take the Line 6 to the Bibliothèque François Mitterand. Bus lines 89, 62, 64, 132, and 325 also service the facility. Wifi should be available at the center by the time you read this. Additionally there are various exhibits held through the year, together with guided tours. Rates vary based on season, which range from €3 to €10. Discounts are available to those below 18, students, and large groups; while the fee is waived for others, including those with disabilities, as well as those on welfare. Students currently enrolled in a university pay only €20. For more information, please visit Bibliothèque Nationale de France website: