If you love books, libraries, and stunning architecture, then the Richelieu Library is a must-see for you. Part of the National Library of France, the Richelieu site is located in the 2nd Arrondissement, in the former palace of Cardinal Mazarin which has been home to the Royal Library since 1721.
Commissioned by Louis XIV, who found there wasn’t enough room in the Louvre to hold all the important French manuscripts and books, the former private home was initially used as a rather chic storage facility. Later, in the mid-1800s it was turned into a proper library with reading rooms and dedicated storage facilities. The main reading room, Salle Labrouste, was named after the head architect.
Today the library specializes in manuscripts and books on the Performing Arts, Prints and Photographs, Coins, Medals, and Music. To read in the library, you must prove that you’re doing research in the field and buy an access pass, but if you just want to look at the grand reading room, you can enter for free and stand at the entrance and take photographs.
The library regularly hosts exhibitions and performances in its other rooms, so if you time it right, you can get further into the building without a pass and enjoy the spectacular architecture and the beautiful display of books.