June 30, 2014

Libraries in Paris

by

There are so many wonderful bookstores in Paris, but the city is also home to some very beautiful libraries. Here are some suggestions for your next trip to the city of light.

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BIBLIOTHÈQUE MAZARINE

This is the oldest public library in Paris—it first opened in 1642. Before that, it was the personal library to Louis XIV’s advisor Cardinal Mazarin. Its holdings include 16th and 17th Century European History, religious history and the history of the book. A two day pass — laissez-passer— is free.

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BIBLIOTHÈQUE SAINTE-GENEVIÈVE

This library is located on the former site of an abbey, and the double barrel-vaulted ceiling was designed by Henri Labrouste in 1851. When you sign up for a library card here, you’ll be assigned to a seat, but you can really sit wherever you want. The library has about a million volumes in the general stacks.

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BIBLIOTHÈQUE NATIONALE DE FRANCE

It costs 3.50 euro to get into the genre reading rooms during the week, but the library is free on the weekends, and you don’t even need a library card. There are often free and open to the public exhibitions and lectures.

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BIBLIOTHÈQUE HISTORIQUE DE LA VILLE DE PARIS

This public library specializes in the history of Paris. It has been located in the Marais since 1969. Previously, the library was in the Hôtel du Ville (city hall), but it was destroyed by fire in 1871.

Claire Kelley is a the former Director of Library and Academic Marketing.

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