Heritage Days in France: culture and history

The Heritage Days take place every year around the 3rd weekend of September. It is an opportunity for the French to rediscover the culture of the country. Paris City Vision reveals the history of these days and gives you a selection of the events of the 36th edition in France.


History and objectives of the Heritage Days

Every year for the past 35 years, culture has been honoured during Heritage Days. Introduced in 1981 by Culture Minister Jack Lang, these days are designed to promote learning in the form of open houses. Every third weekend in September, the French can have free access to sites usually closed to the public and many buildings, monuments, museums

Ten years after the first day in France, the Council of Europe decided to join the movement by officially instituting the European Heritage Days (EHD).

In France, there are, on average, 12 million visitors each year. For the occasion, more than 26,000 events are organized to entertain the French, and 17,000 monuments open their doors.

As with many museums, historical monuments benefit from donations from the population, which enable them to be maintained and preserved. Heritage Days thus aim to make visitors aware of this issue.

For the 36th edition, the Heritage Days will focus on the theme of "Arts and Entertainment" on 21 and 22 September 2019.


Heritage Days in Île-de-France

Ile-de-France is home to a large number of historical monuments and museums. This is why it is one of the leading destinations for the occasion. Whether in Paris or its outskirts, the region has an incredible variety of sites hosting the event. Each Parisian arrondissement offers its program, and the surrounding departments also organize events to showcase their heritage. Paris City Vision even provides you a list of sites to visit for this 36th edition. Cour de Cassation, Observatoire de l'Espace, the Grand Rex, the Maison de la Radio, discover a multitude of worlds with just as much entertainment in Paris. The rest of the Paris Region will also help you find out its riches. With a reduced rate for the occasion, Seine-et-Marne plunges you into the heart of classical architecture by opening the doors of the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte.

In Seine-Saint-Denis, visit the fantastic chapel of Notre Dame du Raincy. Built from reinforced concrete for budgetary reasons, the building is not lacking in character. It has even acquired a worldwide reputation.  


Heritage Days in France

For every city in France, it is a great organization for the culture festival. Each city has its program: museums, exhibitions, historical sites. Some regions even offer visitors guided tours of town halls, courthouses, churches, prefectures, banks.

Discover the Palace of the Popes for a day in the city of Avignon. This fortress will deliver you all the secrets of the sovereign pontiffs who used to live there.

Lyon offers you guided tours of the city around the theme: Living. This year's challenge is to raise awareness of the city's architectural heritage among Lyon's inhabitants and tourists.

Marseille opens the doors of its former soap factory with a guided tour and a dedicated exhibition.

On September 22nd, Roubaix invites you to the ARA (Autour des Rythmes Actuels). An exhibition is full of surprises around the art of music.

In another register, the Pays de la Loire technocentric is transformed into a museum during the European Heritage Days. The public will be able to understand all the stages of the maintenance and upkeep of TER trains.

The Saint-Aignan Electricity Museum will enliven your day with Stop Motion workshops. Children will discover the first workings of special effects in the cinema. 

The Le Mans train station takes you aboard a steam locomotive dating from the 1940s, a real historical jewel. There too, children will be happy to take part in this event with a guide. 

In Burgundy, the Chartaire de Montigny hotel is the venue for the guided tour of the regional cultural affairs department's headquarters. As the JEPs occur at the end of September, it will be pleasant to walk in the gardens of the building after this cultural moment.

If you visit France during Heritage Days, you will have access to sites usually closed to the public. You will therefore have a unique chance to enter almost secret places.