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Geography

From regional geography to travel journals, and from parchment to the CD-ROM.

Geographical maps

The BnF map collections include more than 800.000 documents, dating from the 13th to the 21st century : atlases, topographical and geological series, thematic maps, hydrographic data, city maps, globes...
The main map collection is located at the Cartes et plans department (département des Cartes et plans), at the Richelieu Library (Site Richelieu), encompassing around 700.000 documents.

The modern collection receives French documents through legal deposit, and also acquires a selection of foreign corpuses. You can for exemple consult:

  • the full range of topographical maps of France, from the Cassini map to the IGN’s top 25 maps,
  • series of topographical maps concerning Europe and the world,
  • geological, pedological, hydrographic, road, and tourist maps.
Map showing entry to the port of Saint-Malo, Louis XIV compendium

Map showing entry to the port of Saint-Malo, Louis XIV compendium

The old collection, representing European printed output from the 16th to the 19th century, also includes a large number of hand-drawn maps.
Notable corpuses are:
  • 435 portolanos, including the Carte Pisane, the oldest known western marine map,
  • 180 terrestrial and celestial globes and spheres,
  • the Jean-Baptiste d'Anville collection,
  • the Service hydrographique de la marine documents.
Among the collections of scanned maps, two outstanding sets are more particularly depicted in Gallica digital library: Maps of France and sea charts on parchment. The first one gives structured access to the maps of France and is dedicated to the representation of French territories since the Renaissance. Sea charts on parchment allow to discover portolanos as documents evocative of explorations and long journeys.
The Société de Géographie collections, stored at the Cartes and plans department, contain more than 50.000 maps, concerning travel and exploration history.

The Arsenal library (Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal) keeps 16,000 maps hand-drawn or printed, mainly  from the 17th and 18th centuries, including the military cards collection of marquis de Paulmy.
For more info

« Carte de la seconde tournée militaire de Mr le Mqs de Paulmy 1753 », Ms-6436 (97 E)
Les documents cartographiques de la Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal
Très riche ensemble de cartes, plans et atlas manuscrits ou gravés, des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles


The Reference and Research libraries in the Philosophy, History and Humanities Department contain two working map libraries of 5,000 and 4,000 maps respectively. They mainly consist of recent maps of France.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

See also

City plans

Where to consult the documents ?

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