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Bibliothèque Nationale de France Richelieu

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France Richelieu, 800m from the Relais Saint Honoré, is not just a library, and there are not only books in French. In this article, you'll discover all the benefits of this exceptional place.

It's a place for those who love books, of course, and not just in French. It's also a place for lovers of beautiful architecture and culture in general. Readers and visitors of all ages and nationalities can consult the 20,000 available books, including France's largest freely-accessible collection of comics - 9,000 volumes in a variety of languages. The Richelieu Library has two reading rooms, including the famous Salle Ovale.

Since its creation as a royal library, it has preserved treasures from the kings of France, enriched over the centuries.
The Bnf Richelieu, as it is known to the French, also presents two high-quality temporary exhibitions a year.
Major renovation work was completed in September 2022, making this exceptional place even more dazzling.

Museum history

The building is a conglomeration of plots acquired by Cardinal Mazarin from 1635 until 1649, when he had two galleries built by François Mansart, followed by a private mansion. These lots were gradually broken up, then reunited in 1722, when the ensemble became the royal library. Numerous transformations and extensions have been carried out since then.

The Royal Library is shown on the Turgot plan (1734-1739)

Salle Ovale and Salle Labrouste

The Oval Room

Book on Japanese prints, in German (Taschen)

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, 1930 edition in Vietnamese. The Richelieu Library collaborates with 250 foreign libraries

Salle Labrouste

Salle Labrouste in 1888 photographed by Louis-Émile Durandelle

The museum's permanent collections

Entrance hall with staircase by Bruno Gaudin

You'll have to climb the handsome staircase in the hall to see the museum's permanent collections, which feature some 900 rare items such as Dagobert's throne, Charlemagne's chessboard (13 pieces dating from the 11th century) and a rare photograph by Arthur RimBaud.

Étienne Carjat's 1871 portrait of Arthur Rimbaud is one of the few existing photos of the poet.

Throne of Dagobert (King of the Franks 602-639). Listed by the Abbot of the Basilica of Saint-Denis in the mid-12th century, who claims to have had it repaired.

Aurillac bracelet - 3rd century BC Found in Aurillac (France), this is one of the rare Gaulish gold bracelets

The Galerie Mazarin, a vestige of the Palais de Mazarin, is the only example of a Baroque gallery

The two volumes of the original manuscript of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, now restored, are on display in the Mazarin gallery

Temporary exhibitions

The "Degas in Black and White" exhibition features works in pencil, watercolors, pastels, etchings and photographs. Everything is an opportunity for Degas to create atmospheres full of contrasts. At the end of his life, Degas even said: "If I had to redo my life, I'd only do black and white."

Medieval battle scene in a mountainous landscape
Le Musée présentera à partir du 17 octobre et jusqu’au 21 janvier 2024, 300 photographies de Nadar, Man Ray, Mary Ellen Mark et bien d’autres.

Mary Ellen Mark, Immigrants, Istanbul, Turkey, 1965

Mario Giacomelli - Pretini (Dancing Priests), Italy 1961

The BNF Richelieu is the place to be for anyone with a passion for culture and knowledge, whether French-speaking or not. It offers access to unique collections of antiquarian works, as well as exhibitions and cultural events. Its historic building and prestigious atmosphere make it a fascinating place to visit.

Bibliothèque nationale de France
5 Rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris5 Rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris
Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Nocturne on Tuesdays until 8pm.

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