Lifestyle Paris

Join a Parisian library (free) and borrow foreign language books

chair beside book shelves

Paris has 57 public libraries in all the different arrondissements of the city. They provide access to over 3,5 million books, comics, CDs and movies. Most of these libraries have a collection of books in foreign languages, mostly in English (over 10,000 books in total), and some also in other languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Italian and German. And the best part? It’s for free!

The libraries of the City of Paris offer the classical services that you find in most libraries around the world: access to books, newspapers and magazines, free Wifi, and a quiet seat to study or read. On top of this, they offer an e-library where you can borrow e-books online, and a rich cultural program of workshops, meet-ups and reading groups.

Signing up is easy and for free*. All you have to do is to go to your nearest library with a valid ID and register. Once enrolled, you have access to all the 57 libraries of the city and are ready to borrow your books!

The libraries have a large collection of foreign language books and it continues to be extended with new purchases (for example, I recently saw The Hill We Climb in my local library). Whilst in most libraries you will find books in English, some are more focussed on foreign languages than others. Below you will find an overview of the places with the most books in English, Spanish, Italian or German. Some other languages are concentrated in a specific library, e.g. Arabic (Couronnes-Naguib Mahfouz – 20th or Marguerite Yourcenar – 15th), Russian (Valeyre – 9th), Chinese and Portuguese (Marguerite Yourcenar – 15th), or Japanese (Canopée la Fontaine – 1rst).

Arr.Library NameEnglishSpanishItalianGerman
1Canopée la Fontaine1000+100+
3Marguerite Audoux500+
5Mohammed Arkoun1500+
5Rainer Maria Rilke500+
6André Malraux500+50+50+50+
10Françoise Sagan500+100+200+
11Violette Leduc500+
12Hélène Berr500+
13Glacière Marina Tsvetaieva300+100+
13Jean-Pierre Melville300+
14George Brassens500+100+
14Benoite Groult500+
15Marguerite Yourcenar1000+300+300+200+
15Andrée Chedid500+
16Germaine Tillion1500+300+200+200+
17Edmond Rostand500+
20Marguerite Duras1000+200+200+100+
20Couronnes-Naguib Mahfouz300+

* The services are for free, except if you want to extend your subscription to include CDs or DVDs, you will have to pay 30,50 euros and 61 euros respectively.

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