The Iconic Bibliothèque Nationale de France Reopens After 15 Years Of Renovation

The Iconic Bibliothèque Nationale de France Reopens After 15 Years Of Renovation
The iconic library is among the largest in the world Credit: Poulpy/Wikimedia Commons

The library was constructed in the 19th century by Henri Labrouste and features Beaux-Arts architecture and over 200,000 volumes

Vartika Srivastava
January 11 , 2023
02 Min Read

The National Library of France, aka the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF), is an iconic structure hosting an archive for French works and publications. The collections here include books, manuscripts, significant vintage items from the past, and original artworks. The space is a bibliophile’s haven and after a massive, over-a-decade makeover, this stunning library has reopened to the public. And you should pay a visit when you are in France next.

The Renovation


The National Library of France first served as the home of Cardinal Mazarin, who was the co-ruler of France alongside the queen during the regency of Anne. It was later used as the King’s Library (from 1721). From 1721 through 1996, this location served as the library’s primary address. Some time in the early 2000s, it was observed that the structure was in bad shape. And that it needed to be more effective in its intended function. Hence a full-blown renovation had become a necessity. Based on a design by well-known architects Bruno Gaudin and Virginie Brégal, the library underwent a 15-year renovation.

What To See

The entire library was renovated and redesigned in a more modern interpretation of the Beaux-Arts style, including its grand and well-liked reading room known as the Oval Paradise. Incorporating shelves and mirrored light fixtures, the Oval Room now has over 200,000 books available for visitors to read.

As part of a rebuilt and upgraded visitor trail, a spectacular aluminium spiral staircase was also erected. 

The vistas beautifully display the library's eclectic mix of architectural styles, which span the 17th to the 21st centuries.

A stunning perspective of the domes of the Labrouste hall may be seen through the glass gallery, which also provides views of the sky and the roof. 

Previously closed off to the public, several areas of the reading room have recently been made accessible, allowing people to have a brief look of them.

The llibrary has the most extensive collection of open-access comic strips in France. And a research library, a new museum, a location for temporary exhibitions, a garden, a bookshop, and a café.

A sprawing 1,200 sq m museum has been introduced too, including numerous old library rooms, notably the Mazarin Gallery.

The literary manuscripts here include Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, as well as paintings and old maps.

After your visit, you can end your day with a stroll through the Vivienne Garden, where people gather for a stopover.

Address: Quai François Mauriac, 75706 Paris, France. 
Hours: 9am–8pm, except Sunday 1–7pm and Monday 2–8pm. Check here for more information

READ: Within The Heart Of A 700-Year-Old Library

READ: The Walking Library

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