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Archives de la Préfecture de Police de Paris

Page history last edited by Paul Keenan 13 years, 8 months ago

Date of tip: June 2005

Source: Stephanie Hare, stephanie.hare@sant.ox.ac.uk


Location: Musée et Archive de la Préfecture de Police de Paris, 1 bis, rue des Carmes, 75005 Paris, France.


How to get there: Maubert Mutualité, line 10


Language: French. 


Getting started: Unfortunately there is not a lot of prep work that you can do before going to the archive. The archive does not even have its own website, and none of its inventory is on-line. I have provided the general guide to the collection here but you are going to have to lump it and go. 

The archive is located in a working police department, and is on the second floor of the building across the hall from the Musée de la Préfecture de Police de Paris. Don’t be put off by having to walk past the police officer guarding the doorway outside the building, nor the police receptionists when you enter. Just tell them that you are there for the archives and they will waive you in.

When you get to the archive itself, you will be asked to fill out a piece of A4 paper with the usual questions asked by archives (and police!) the world over: who are you, what do you want, why are you there, what do you need from them, etc. I can tell you right now that if you want to look at anything in Série H (Cabinet du Préfet de Police), it will require a dérogation.


Opening Hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. 


General working conditions: There are places for perhaps 20 researchers at any one time, with access for your laptop and plenty of natural light. The archive is also a library with many books on the police and police-related matters. The staff at the archive are very friendly and have helped me with questions many times.

Getting lunch: you are in a great neighbourhood for cafes and sandwich shops, but I love to go down to the little square just near Maubert Mutualité metro stop. There is a fruit and veg stand, a cheese shop, a bakery, and traiteur/delicatessen. You can make your lunch and then walk over to the park near Shakespeare and Company to relax and eat while looking at the Notre Dame.


Policy on technology: Laptops and digital cameras are fine.  


Photocopy policy:  unknown


Particularities: No internet access here, in fact no computers here to speak of! Everything is still on a card catalogue or on paper.  


How to apply for classified files: If you need a file sous dérogation, you need to write a letter to the Commissaire Divisionnaire du Musée et Archive de la Préfecture de Police de Paris, Cabinet du Préfet de Police, 1 bis, rue des Carmes, 75005 Paris, France. In this letter you want to introduce yourself formally and provide a brief summary of your research, as well as why you want to look at these files. Then, you want to list the files in as great of detail as possible: cotes, analyses, dates is the usual holy trinity of French archives. Included in your application should be a letter from your supervisor in beautiful French, preferably using the subjunctive, describing how these papers are essential for your research and indeed your future happiness in life. 


Contact name in case of questions regarding classified files: Commissaire Divisionnaire du Musée et Archive de la Préfecture de Police de Paris, Cabinet du Préfet de Police, 1 bis, rue des Carmes, 75005 Paris, France.


Places to stay: (Please note that this is my general paragraph for Paris, which features in some of my other Paris-based archive tips.)

Everyone has a different philosophy when it comes to staying in Paris. Some people want to be right next to the National Archives so they don’t have to waste a minute commuting to and from their hotel. This is great, and the neighbourhood surrounding the Marais is wonderful, but it can be a little expensive. I can recommend the Hotel Sevigné on the rue Mahler, but you need to book well in advance in order to be sure of getting a room. The rooms are small but clean and the bathrooms are spotless. Also, you will have easy access to the rue des rosiers, with one of the best delicatessens on the planet, Sacha Finkelsztajn. Try their chocolate cake, which is as light as air. (Closed Saturdays). There is also a little café just as you turn onto the rue des rosiers from the rue Mahler called Café La Théière or something similar. They do great meals and have a nice atmosphere, but unfortunately they are not open late. 

Regardless of where you are staying, you may want to get a healthy and inexpensive meal after a day at the National Archives. I can recommend L’Apparament for just this purpose. It is next to the Picasso Museum, on the rue des coutures. Open late (after midnight), this place has chess and chequer games that you can borrow, as well as back issues of Paris Match to read. You are given a little menu from which you can choose any number of items for various prices, but the most expensive is around €15, and you get a big plate in return. In this way, you can vary what you have there over several evenings, if you so choose. Also, they have a nice drinks menu and play very cool music (I think) which is an antidote to the silence of the archives.  

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