consultation procedures

© Archives Bordeaux Métropole

Registration, the reading room procedures, and the availability of documents to the public: find out about the modalities for consulting the archives.


© Archives Bordeaux Métropole

Consultation is free of charge and can only take place on site, according to the current rules and regulations.

Access to the documents is possible after registration and the presentation of an official form of ID. Registration must be renewed annually.

Minors must also provide parental authorization.


The reading room

The reading room has 40 seats for the consultation of original and digital documents, and printed works. 3 readers and a reader-printer are available to consult the microfilms.

The rules and regulations determined by order of the Mayor lay out the running of the reading room. In particular, it requires personal belongings to be left in individual lockers and requires the use of pencils for preventive preservation purposes.

Officials are available to welcome the public. The president of the reading room provides the reader with orientation but does not do the research in his place. The clerk is in charge of the physical communication of the documents.

Research tools are freely available, making it possible to find the call numbers of the archived documents.


Availability of documents to the public

© Archives municipales de Bordeaux

By right, the archives can be consulted immediately. There are however certain restrictions.

Three reasons can mean that documents are unavailable for consultation: the minimum legal period before publication for public archives, possible restrictions requested by the donors or depositors for private archives, the physical condition of the documents.



1. The minimum legal period before publication for public archives

Access to public archives is governed by the heritage code. Although common law allows for immediate access to the archives, the communication of certain documents is subject to timescales fixed by the unified law of July 15 2008. These special timescales, which range from 25 to 100 years, make it possible to fulfill the need for confidentiality inherent to certain types of documents or information.

However, a special procedure makes it possible to consult archives which have not yet reached the end of the minimum legal period: this is known as communication by way of derogation. This authorization is given by the minister of culture once the service which produced the files has itself agreed to it, and is valid for a specifically named person and for specific documents identified by a call number. 

2. Restrictions requested by the donors and depositors for private archives.

Private funds can be consulted according to conditions determined by the donors, legatees or depositors. In certain cases, their agreement is required before any consultation or reproduction of the files can take place.

3. The physical condition of documents

Documents that are in bad physical condition or those which risk being damaged through handling are removed from consultation.

They can in some cases be consulted using substitute media (digital or microfilm) which makes it possible to access them without touching the originals. This is why it is possible to consult highway authorizations and population census using microfilm, the civil status register which is on microfilm and is gradually being transferred to digital media, and the land registry which is on digital media.

The restoration of documents makes it possible to consult documents again. The ancient collection was mostly closed to consultation due to the large number of seriously damaged documents in the fire of 1862, but is gradually being restored and becoming available to readers once again.


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