The François Mitterrand Library

One of Paris’ most emblematic places to visit is the François Mitterrand Library. Also called the “Very Large Library”. It is the BNF (National Library of France)’s main branch. It is located in Tolbiac in the 13th arrondissement of Paris on the left bank of the Seine, and is sometimes called the “new Latin Quarter” because there are so many academic and cultural institutions located there today.

Among these are the University of Paris-Diderot, Inalco, the National School of Architecture Paris-Val de Seine, the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences… Designed by Dominique Perrault, the library is served by the Métro stations “Bibliothèque François Mitterrand” and “Quai de la Gare”.

The library, which occupies a site of 7.5 hectares and has a 60,000 m² esplanade, is the largest library in France and one of the largest libraries in the world, housing several tens of millions of books, periodicals, audiovisual documents, microfiche … It houses an extraordinary variety of books in different languages, from different eras.

On the wooden esplanade, you will find four angular towers that are erected at more than 80 meters representing time, laws, numbers, and letters, like four open books representing knowledge. These towers house seven floors for offices and eleven floors for library use.

Heir to the royal collections developed since the end of the Middle Ages, this building, completed in 1995, opened its doors to the public in 1996 and, after moving most of the collections from Richelieu Street, welcomed researchers on the ground floor garden in 1998.

A tour is essential to help you understand the history of the National Library of France, its origins, its organization, its mission, and to discover the building’s architecture in detail at the same time.

The tour will take you to the reading rooms, to the basement, to see Louis XIV’s gigantic globes, to see Coronelli’s drawings …

You can walk in the garden, enjoy the place’s harmonious lights and colors, access the towers’ floors… There, you will have a magnificent view of the building’s surroundings. A nice tour and a surprising discovery.