France-China is a bilingual (French and Chinese) digital library which details the cultural, religious and scientific interactions between France and China from the 16th century until 1945.  It has made some of the BnF’s sinological collection, which is one of the richest in the world, accessible to the general public. France-China is part of the larger Shared Heritage collection.


Map of Mount Putuo, China - 普陀山 / 竟源記題 - BnF

Remarkable Items

In order to illustrate five centuries of Franco-Chinese history and exchanges, the site has gathered more than 7,000 printed items, manuscripts, maps, photographs, objects and sound recordings (both in Chinese and French) related to China. This documentary heritage has been contextualised through previously-unpublished articles written by internationally renowned specialists.


These items have been divided into 6 major thematic sections and nearly one hundred and fifty sub-themes contextualised by more than sixty articles.

  • Routes and Travelers, in which one can rediscover, for example, Marco Polo’s magnificent Book of Wonders. A large selection of nautical maps from the French Naval Hydrographic Service collection, old Chinese charts and maps of China from the Anville collection are also included.
  • Powers and Diplomacy traces the diplomatic ties between the two countries, from their origins to 1945. It includes The Forty Views of the Garden of Perfect Clarity, a masterpiece of Chinese art dating from the 18th century.
  • Knowledge, dedicated to Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, then to the development of French sinology at the beginning of the 18th century, which foreshadowed the development of Chinese studies in other Western countries. It also includes mathematics, astral sciences, medicine, botany, zoology and the press, bringing together both scientifically and aesthetically remarkable collections.
  • Scenes of Life, devoted to everyday life in China, as well as Chinese crafts, pastimes, clothing and furnishings.
  • Techniques and Craftsmanship details the idea of a “sinophilia of taste”, which was reflected throughout Europe in the 18th century with many kinds of chinoiserie in furniture, crockery, fabrics and garden architecture…
  • Arts and Letters, devoted to the sinophilia which was also expressed in music, literature and theatre within the works of Judith Gauthier, Victor Segalen, Jules Verne and many others.
Avalokiteśvara with a thousand hands and a thousand eyes - BnF

The Partners

The France-China Digital Library is the result of the cooperation between the BnF and the National Library of China. The Municipal Library of Lyon and the French Diplomatic Digital Library are also project partners.

Learn More

(Links below in French)

Oriental manuscriptsLanguages and Literature of Southeast Asia and the Far EastOnline conferences

“Rendez-vous du politique” China, a global power during a global pandemic (2021)Week-end dedicated to China in honor of 50 years of diplomatic relations between France and the People’s Republic of China (2014)