Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris

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Quai François-Mauriac

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  • 3. One of the many reading rooms
    3. One of the many reading rooms
    by Nemorino
  • Procession of the thiasos
    Procession of the thiasos
    by Nemorino
  • The Grand Staircase in the library
    The Grand Staircase in the library
    by Nemorino
  • Nemorino's Profile Photo

    François-Mitterrand Library (13th)

    by Nemorino Updated Oct 7, 2014

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This is the newest and largest of the four Paris sites of the French National Library. It was one of the "great projects" -- which included the Great Arch, the Opéra Bastille and the Pyramid of the Louvre -- that were undertaken during the presidency of François Mitterrand, who was the President of France from 1981 to 1995.

    The other three Paris sites of the French National Library are:
    • The Richelieu-Louvois Library (2nd)
    • The Arsenal Library (4th)
    • The Library-Museum of the Opera (9th)

    François-Mitterrand Library consists of a huge square building with a forest in the inner courtyard and four L-shaped high-rise buildings at the four corners. It was built during the 1990s and completed in 1998.

    Second photo: This striking new "Discovery Space" is a permanent exhibition of the library's history, and a guide to its resources.

    Third photo: One of the many reading rooms in the new library. These reading rooms are very popular with students from all the Paris universities, as I know because my younger son often went there with his laptop when he was a student in Paris.

    Fourth photo: People in the new library.

    Address: Quai François-Mauriac
    Directions: Vélib' 13123
    Location on the Vélib' map
    GPS 48°50'2.16" North; 2°22'33.51" East
    Métro Quai de la gare (line 6) and Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand (line 14 and RER C)
    Phone: 33(0)1 53 79 59 59
    Website: http://www.bnf.fr/

    1. Fran��ois-Mitterrand Library 2. Discovery Space (espace d��couverte) 3. One of the many reading rooms 4. People in the new library
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    Richelieu-Louvois Library (2nd)

    by Nemorino Written Sep 26, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Richelieu-Louvois Library is one of four Paris locations of the National Library of France, which in French is called the Bibliothèque nationale de France, abbreviated BnF.

    The other three Paris sites of the BnF are:
    • The François Mitterrand Library
    • The Arsenal Library
    • The Library-Museum of the Opera

    The Richelieu Library takes up a large rectangular block in the second district (2e arrondissement) of Paris, bounded by Rue Vivienne, Rue des Petits Champs, Rue de Richelieu and Rue Colbert. This is where the BnF’s special collections are kept: performing arts, maps and plans, prints and photographs, manuscripts, coins, medals and antiquities.

    The monumental Oval Reading Room, dating from 1875, is one of the unique features of the building and is in constant use by students and researchers. (No photos are allowed there, sorry.)

    Renovation work on the Richelieu Library was begun in 2010 and is scheduled to take most of the decade, but the building remains open for researchers and for the general public.

    Second photo: Busts of famous and once-famous people line the halls of the library.

    Third photo: Finally I found a bust of someone I ‘know’, the French king François I, who lived from 1494 to 1547. He ruled as King of France from 1515 until his death. The reason I ‘know’ him is that he was the title figure of a play by Victor Hugo called Le Roi s’amuse (The King Amuses Himself), which was banned by the French authorities after the first performance in 1832 and remained banned for the next fifty years. The composer Giuseppe Verdi later used this play – without asking the author’s permission – as the basis for his opera Rigoletto. But Verdi also had problems with the censors, so he had to change the King of France into the Duke of Mantua before the opera had its world premiere in 1851.

    Fourth photo: The Grand Staircase, like the Oval Reading Room, dates from 1875. At the top of the Grand Staircase there is a museum of coins, medals and antiques as well as space for temporary exhibitions.

    Fifth photo: Exhibits in the museum of coins, medals and antiques. The display case in the foreground shows ivory carvings that were given to French kings and presidents at various times, before ivory was banned to protect the elephants.

    Address: 5, rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris
    Directions: Location on the Vélib’ map
    Aerial view and photo on monumentum.fr
    Phone: +33 1 53 79 83 40
    Website: http://www.bnf.fr/fr/la_bnf/sites/a.site_richelieu-louvois.html

    Next 2nd district review from September 2014: Dionysian frenzy

    BnF Site Richelieu-Louvois Busts in the library Fran��ois I (1494-1547) The Grand Staircase in the library Museum of coins, medals and antiquities
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    Dionysian frenzy

    by Nemorino Updated Sep 26, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    In addition to the permanent exhibition of coins, medallions and antiques, the French National Library (Site Richelieu-Louvois) often hosts prestigious temporary exhibitions. When I was there in the summer of 2014 they had an impressive display of ancient Greek vases from the personal collection of the Duke of Luynes (1802-1867), decorated mainly with pictures of the god Dionysus and his followers.

    A text panel explained:

    Dionysus, god of wine and intoxication, theater and illusion, is ubiquitous on vases intended mainly for the consumption of wine. He arrives surrounded by a joyous procession, the thiasos, formed by maenads and satyrs, half-man half-horse. They all taste the pleasures of drunkenness, encounters, music and dance in a frenzy that can sometimes become savage.

    On this first vase the two men have tails like horses, so they must be satyrs, and the women are maenads, each carrying a thyrsus, the symbol of Dionysus, a staff of giant fennel with a pine cone at the top. But the satyr and maenad in the center of the photo seem quite relaxed, having evidently not worked themselves up into a frenzy just yet.

    Second photo: On this vase, the maenads and satyrs have formed a procession (the thiasos) and are running round and round with their typical implements, like the thyrsus being carried by the woman in the middle.

    Third photo: Here the woman on the left is beating on a tambourine, the next woman has a stick in one hand and the man is holding a canthare, a kind of long-handled drinking cup.

    Fourth photo: On the left a maenad is offering a satyr a drink of wine, while in the center an affectionate couple (both women) are embracing, one carrying a stick and one with a snake wrapped around her arm.

    Fifth photo: Here the maenad on the left, the one with her back to us, has ripped a live goat in half and is about to eat its raw flesh, showing that she has now reached a state of Dionysian frenzy. The satyr in the middle is wildly trashing around with the two staffs that he is holding in both hands (at least one of which is a thyrsus with a pine cone at the top). The maenad on the right is making music with her pipes, playing two of them at the same time.

    Address: 5, rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris
    Directions: Location on the Vélib’ map
    Aerial view and photo on monumentum.fr
    Phone: +33 1 53 79 83 40
    Website: http://www.bnf.fr/fr/la_bnf/sites/a.site_richelieu-louvois.html

    Next 2nd district review from September 2014: Galerie Colbert

    An ancient Greek vase Procession of the thiasos Procession of the thiasos Maenads and satyrs Dionysian frenzy
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    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

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    Take the Météor & check out the Library...

    by polardabar Updated Mar 15, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you're on your way to Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand, take the new metro line called Météor! It's totally automatized, so it works without an operator & is still fast & accurate. If you're lucky [as I was], you could find an empty front seat, which seems like you're driving the metro yourself! ;o)

    The Library itself is another wonder of architecture & I can only imagine what it contains inside its walls... I've heard there's a little forest inbetween the four towers, where the students can have a break. Would just love to get inside someday...

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    Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris

    by xiquinho Updated Nov 2, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Bibliothèque Nationale de France was first a royal and later an imperial library before becoming a national institution. Its mission is to collect and conserve all works published, whatever the media, with the purpose ofmaking them available to researchers and professionals.Under french law, publishers must deposit several copies of the works they publish in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

    Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris

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    A place to.. relax ! Un endroit pour.. se detendre

    by Maillekeul Written Sep 13, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    BNF, as it's called in Paris, is a really nice place to read books, of course, but one of its best qualities relies upon the "little world" built around the library : consequently, it has become a place to wander around, watch a movie or even doze under the sun...

    La BNF, comme on l'appelle a Paris, est bien entendu un endroit pour consulter des ouvrages, vu que c'est surtout une bibliotheque, mais l'un de ses avantages repose sur le "petit monde" crée tout autour. Ca en devient un endroit agreable pour se promener, mater un film ou ronfler sous le soleil...

    Inside the library - Dans la bibli
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  • Tomtom-Paris's Profile Photo

    The french national library

    by Tomtom-Paris Written Sep 12, 2002

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The french national library
    This library is one of the large public works make by Francois Mitterand.

    This building shows 4 books open.

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