Over the summer holidays, some of the library team ventured over the deep blue sea and into lands far far away. As is tradition, librarians cannot visit another country without visiting at least one (1) local bookshop or library. You might have seen some of AHL’s Instagram and Twitter posts featuring our travelinglibrarian hashtag, where we showcase some incredible bibliothèques (libraries) and 本屋 (honya: bookshops) around the globe…now it’s our turn! Check out the first journey below, from Miss Yates!
Miss Yates – Paris, France
I was lucky enough to hop over the pond from my Christmas in London trip and spend a few days in Paris, where each day I consumed my body weight in crepes. A highlight was my visit to the Centre Pompidou, an amazing art gallery with works ranging from Matisse and Picasso to Warhol and Rothko. I’m not going to pretend like I understand most of them; for example, check out this piece by Yves Klein, a French artist who invented his very own colour (haven’t we all tried to do that?), International Klein Blue:
Mmm. Yes. Very nice. Very anti-establishment nouveau realism… (And other things art critics say).
But back to the books! I made a special trip to the Bibliothèque nationale de France, or BnF, the national library of France. Situated right next to the Seine, 5 minutes from Quai de la gare metro, BnF is a triumph in architecture, with 4 high-rise buildings marking each corner of the rectangular roof area, giving the impression of book-ends. A beautiful forest fills the middle of the building, so those studying inside get an incredible green view (and increase their success on exams!)
Established in 1461, the library was renovated and re-opened in 1996, which I found amazing for how modern it felt. Open to everyone, the four BnF libraries around Paris hold over 40 million items and run regular exhibitions.
I was also lucky enough to visit some famous English bookshops in Paris – the ‘San Francisco Book Company’, and ‘Berkeley Books of Paris’. Both were quaint stores filled to the ceiling with second-hand books. If you dig hard enough, you could even find some very rare editions in the stacks.
So if you ever find yourself with some spare time in the city of lurve, I would highly recommend having a walk around BnF, grabbing a crepe, and popping in to San Francisco Book Company. Bon voyage!
Bibliotheque national de France. (2016). Welcome to the BnF. Retrieved from http://www.bnf.fr/en/tools/a.welcome_to_the_bnf.html
Wikipedia. (2017). Bibliotheque national de France. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblioth%C3%A8que_nationale_de_France
Wikipedia. (2017). International Klein Blue. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Klein_Blue
Featured image: This photo, “Eiffel Tower” is copyright (c) 2008 Alex Lecea and made available under a Attribution 2.0 Generic license.