Richelieu National Library

Bibliothèque Nationale Richelieu

5, rue Vivienne, Paris, 75002
Admission: Free
(Price vary depending on the exhibition.)
Wheelchair Access
Has Temporary Exhibitions

Opening Times

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 1000 - 1900
Wednesday: 1000 - 1900
Thursday: 1000 - 1900
Friday: 1000 - 1900
Saturday: 1000 - 1900
Sunday: 1200 - 1900
Closed on French Bank Holidays.
Opening times and days may vary please check their program and schedule.
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Map / Location
Transport Info
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Main Photo

Map / Location
Transport Info

Transport Info

Tube : lignes Bourse (3), Palais-Royal (1,7), Pyramides (14).

The French National Library collects, preserves and makes known the national documentary heritage.

Its collection is unique with 14 million books and printed documents, manuscripts, prints, photographs, maps and plans, scores, coins, medals, sound documents, video and multimedia documents... Numerous cultural events like exhibitions highlight and make known the library’s outstanding collections.

The National Library of France traces its origin to the royal library founded at the Louvre Palace by Charles V in 1368. The library grew rapidly during the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV, due in great part to the interest of the Minister of Finance, Colbert, an indefatigable collectors of books. The quarters in the Rue de la Harpe becoming inadequate, the library was again moved, in 1666, to a more spacious house in Rue Vivienne which still stand there today.

The library's collections swelled to over 300,000 volumes during the radical phase of the French Revolution when the private libraries of aristocrats and clergy were seized. After the establishment of the French First Republic in September 1792, "the Assembly declared the Bibliotheque du Roi to be national property and the institution was renamed the Bibliothèque Nationale. After four centuries of control by the Crown, this great library now became the property of the French people."

An new administrative organization was established. Napoleon took great interest in the library and among other things issued an order that all books in provincial libraries not possessed by the Bibliothèque Nationale should be forwarded to it, subject to replacement by exchanges of equal value from the duplicate collections, making it possible, as Napoleon said, to find a copy of any book in France in the National Library. Napoleon furthermore increased the collections by spoil from his conquests. A considerable number of these books was restored after his downfall.

Today the Richelieu site presents several temporary exhibitions through the year.

© National Library / Wikipedia / E.B.

Past exhibitions at Richelieu National Library - now closed:
Anders Petersen 13th Nov 2013 - 2nd Feb 2014
French Drawings from the XVIIth century 18th Mar 2014 - 15th Jun 2014
The Red and the Black. Greek vases of the Luynes’ collection 28th Oct 2013 - 31st Oct 2015