If you are in Paris and want to check out something off the touristic route or just have a bit of peace in the busy city, then Bibliotheque Francois Mitterrand is your place! Moreover, it is absolutely free to visit it!;)
BnF or Bibliotheque National de France is located 2 mins. away from the metro stop called Bibliotheque Francois Mitterrand (RER C) or Quai de la Gare (Line 6). The great thing about the Library is that it is open until 20 00 and works on Sunday as well (and we all know what is Sunday in France right?).
The library has 4 building (80 meter-high, 22 floors each) build in this way that it looks like there are 4 big open books facing each other. Marvelous idea, isn’t it?
The entrance is kind of hidden, you have to go down with an elevator to reach it. You can just walk around inside (it’s huge, it is designed to host 3 200 people in reading rooms that are spread for over 54 000 m2) or you can just enjoy your book or work using any of those cozy little chairs:
You can use the Internet in any of the numerous reading rooms, the access there is 3,5 euros for a day (come before 17 00 or show your valid student ID if you are a student, and you will get there at no charge).
Also, there is a great permanent exposition about globes from all over the word that were given to the king Louis XIV as a present. It is very interactive and free of charge as well. Just get inside the building and head to the section A.
These 2 globes are 4 meters in diameter and were made for “Biggest king on Earth” Louis XIV:
In between 4 skyscrapers, there is a beautiful 1 hectar garden (called Jardin foret), it is embedded 10 meters under the riverbank’s level. It is great because visitors can have a clear view on the “forest” over the large reading rooms.
The jardin that is open for public only once (!) a year because fresh air and insects from the garden can damage very valuable books that are located on that level inside. There are many interesting species there, and it looks adorable from the outside, so if you can, definitely visit it! I’ve been told that it is open the first Sunday of July, but please double check that info.
The biblioteque is very impressive actually, not only because it has one of the largest collection of valuable books in the world, but also because of their quite modern approach – all those books are scanned, so you can access them online, they have automatic transport of documents, they organize may different exhibitions, special performances for kids etc.
There are free tours of the building in English. In a bit over an hour you will know everything about the history of the institution and the architecture of the building. Attention – I am not sure what time it takes place. More info about that you can get by this number (+33 153794043) or at the welcome desk.
Want to know more about non-touristic places in Paris? Check out this post!
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