French National Library (Bibliothèque
nationale de France) commonly known
as BNF is the most important library of
the whole France.
Its activities are divided in several sites,
the main one is the library called François-Mitterrand,
situated in the 13th arrondissement, on
the left bank. The library was designed
by the French architect Dominique Perrault
and is now managed by the French Ministry
The complex is made of a large esplanade
and four L-shaped towers.
The BNF keeps enormous and precious collections
and more than 13 millions books and printings;
it has also famous digital libraries like
the Gallic and the European.
The National library cooperates with other
national and international libraries and
it is involved in several projects of research.
Furthermore the BNF often organizes artistic
and cultural exhibitions followed by meetings
The library also handles the issue of two
periodical magazines: Chroniques de
la Bibliothèque nationale de France
(also available online) that gives interesting
information about the library and La
Revue de la Bibliothèque nationale de France
that publishes articles about the history
of the BNF and its collections.
The Tolbiac site with the François-Mitterrand
libraries, also known as Très grande bibliothèque,
occupies a surface of 7,5 hectares.
The buildings that houses the BNF have been
conceived by the architect Dominique Perrault
and they are four L-shaped towers, 79 meters
high, whose form recalls symbolically the
shape of an open book.
Each tower has a specific name: Tour
des temps, Tour des lois, Tour des nombres,
Tour des lettres. The central part
of the BNF is occupied by a big garden of
12 000 m², not accessible to public, that
gives off a sensation of calm and relax.
The garden is made of pines coming from
the wood of Bord.
11, Quai François Mauriac
Individual visit only upon reservation,
from Tuesday to Saturday from 2 p.m.
Group visit only upon reservation by calling
For more information: