Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterrand Library

This is a modern library in Paris on a large and minimalistic scale, which is one of the largest libraries in the world and houses collections including a museum, plus puts on temporary exhibitions.

About the Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterrand in Paris

The Bibliotheque National de France, known as BNF for short, needed to be expanded as they were running out of room to house all the books, printed materials and other documents that is constantly growing year upon year.

And so the French President, Francois Mitterrand announced a new purpose built library that would be constructed in the 13th Arrondissement in an area of Paris that was being developed at the time.
Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterrand and Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir
After an international design competition was launched in 1988, eventually the winning design chosen in 1989, was by the architect Dominique Perrault, with an ultra modern and minimalistic style of contemporary architecture that would have four angular towers representing open books.

The main features are symmetry, light and balance utilising the materials of steel, glass and wood, with even the inside having stainless steel mesh for walls and exotic wood for the furniture of the reading rooms, which have also been designed to exude a feeling of calmness and comfort for its users.

The Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterand is based on a 60,000 square metre area, with the towers themselves being 80 metres in height and consist of 22 floors, over 54,000 square metres of reading rooms and a 1 hectare garden.

You will find that there are two distinct sections that are surrounded by an ecological Forest Garden and the first known as the Rez-de-Jardin is the research library that holds its heritage collections and is only available to accredited users.

The second is the Haut-de-Jardin, which is the reference library that is available to anyone over the age of 16 with a readers card, and this is also the area that houses the permanent museum exhibition and temporary exhibitions at the Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterrand.

Visiting the Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterrand Library

The West Hall has an area dedicated to the museum exhibition called the Globes of Louis XIV, which are the monumental masterpieces of Baroque mapping.  There are also other areas in this part of the Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterrand that play host to different exhibitions.

Yet the East Hall is where you can discover the history of the BNF and this particular library, and the area like a walkway that goes between these two buildings has photographic and graphic works exhibitions, which are free for all to enjoy.
Research tables inside Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterrand
Two of the Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterrand towers
Now there are some exhibitions such as the walkway area and the Forest Garden at the Bibliotheque Francois Mitterrand that are free to access for anyone, however, some exhibitions are only available for a fee, but with your ticket you also get free access to the reading rooms on the day of your visit.

You will find the reference library open on a Tuesday to Saturday from 10am through to 7pm and on a Sunday from 1pm through to 7pm, yet it is always closed on a Monday, but the research library for accredited users only, is normally open on a Monday from 2pm through to 8pm as well.

However, do bear in mind that the reference library and exhibition section is closed on a Monday and both libraries along with the exhibitions are closed on all national French holidays including 1st May, Ascension Thursday, 14th July, etc.  In addition to these dates, there is an annual closure from approximately 8th September through to 21st September.

Access to the Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterand

Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterrand and Allee Arthur Rimbaud
As for getting to the Bibliotheque Francois-Mitterrand, you will find that the eastern entrance is closest to the Metro station called the Francois-Mitterrand stop serving line 14, which also serves the RER trains via line C.

There is an additional entrance on the western side, and another Metro station called the Quai de la Gare stop serving line 6, is also located close by.

You can also access the square or plaza in front of the library from the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir footbridge, which goes over the River Seine from the Parc de Bercy, plus the bus lines 62, 64, 89, 132, 325 along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via Line N133 will also get you close by.

But if you have your own means of transport, then there are paying car parks located next to the library at the Rue Emile Durkheim and at the Rue Abel Gance, plus there are Velib stations for the self service bike rental scheme in Paris.