European Heritage Days
Every year for the past 35 years, Heritage Days have been celebrating culture. During these days, Parisians and tourists can visit many museums and historical monuments free of charge. Launched for the first time in 1984 by the Minister of Culture Jack Lang, the Heritage Days were quickly extended to the whole of Europe. In 1991, the Council of Europe officially established the European Heritage Days.
For two days, the capital city places numerous activities to enliven the city and raise the awareness of its inhabitants about France's history and culture. On the program: guided tours of the monuments, exhibitions, workshops... Enough to keep the curious and history and culture enthusiasts busy.
36th edition of the Heritage Days in Paris
The next Heritage Days in Paris, Île-de-France, will be held on 21 and 22 September 2019. This year's theme is "Arts and Entertainment." Each arrondissement in Paris offers you its program.
You will be able to visit the Palais Royal, the legacy of the Princes of the House of Orléans, with an exhibition dedicated to Notre-Dame-de-Paris Cathedral. Then discover the Centre national d'études spatiales by visiting the Space Observatory in the 1st arrondissement.
In the 2nd arrondissement, the Grand Rex opens its doors and presents its baroque architecture, Art-Deco finishes, and its starry vault.
In the 4th arrondissement, the Hôtel de Ville unveils its splendid lounges and its incredible library around an exhibition on the theme of "La mode qui s'engage". You will even be able to discover the craftsmen's know-how with various workshops (pottery workshop, floral workshop, tapestry, watchmaking).
On Sunday 22nd, the Opéra-Comique will transport you to an atmosphere between lyrical song and theatre with a visit to its premises. Formerly called the Royal Academy of Music, the Opera is also the oldest cultural institution in France. Its building was undertaken during the reign of Louis XIV.
Take a tour of the Senate by visiting the Musée du Luxembourg. The President of the Senate will even be present on Sunday 22nd to answer questions from visitors. Afterward, it will be pleasant to stroll through the Palace's garden to enjoy the last days of summer.
During these two days, you will also be able to attend a guided tour of the Cassation Court by entering the Palais de Justice de Paris.
Program of Heritage Days in Île-de-France
While Paris comes alive for the Heritage Days, the rest of the Île-de-France region also implements various programs.
Clichy offers you a guided tour of an SNCF signal box. If you are a family with children, you will need to register in advance, as access is in groups of no more than 4 participants (duration: 45 minutes). You can also visit an SNCF train maintenance workshop. You will be in direct contact with technical specialists who will present their know-how, equipment, and maintenance of the railway network.
In Seine et Marne, the sublime castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte invites you for a 14.50€ fee to discover the artistic domains of the XVIIth century. Visits are open between 10 am and 5 pm.
In Versailles, discover the Court of Appeal, located less than a kilometer from the Palace of Versailles. Every day, eight guided excursions are offered: 3 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon (20 people each). Magistrates and civil servants will present their missions: criminal justice, judicial organization... It is only for this social occasion that you will be able to enter these places; they are not open to the public for the rest of the time.
In Essonne, the museum of photography presents you with a photogram. Between chemistry and light, you will see the shapes appear on the photo paper. Discover the old methods of photo production.
Neuilly-sur-Marne, in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, invites you to explore the church Notre-Dame du Raincy nicknamed the Holy Chapel of reinforced concrete. The architects in charge of the construction of the monument will reveal to you their secret to make the most of the materials in the face of a, particularly tight budget.
Other activities are organized, such as a big flea market at the gates of the Château d'Ormesson in the Val-de-Marne. Access to the flea market is free, but there is a charge for visiting the castle.
In Pontoise, in the Val d'Oise, the Pissaro museum, in the heart of a bourgeois house, presents its impressionist collections. Having marked the break with modern art, Camille Pissaro, the painter in this museum's honor, worked alongside Cézanne and Gauguin for many years.
Whether in Paris or another region, visiting France during Heritage Days will give you access to very reserved sites.