European Heritage days in France – known as the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine, take place over a weekend each September.
More than 16,000 historical buildings, famous monuments, Government sites and places of interest – some of which are normally closed to the public, open their doors and welcome in visitors.
The French Ministry of Culture works with its partners in this initiative to open up to the public usually hidden or secret venues from bunkers, wrecks and ruins to underground catacombs, crypts, caves, mounds, mines, tunnels, drains and roads.
Also participating are theatres, cinemas, recording studios including France Television in Paris and libraries allowing the general public access to rarely seen sights and technology. Churches, shops and artisans – many different genres take part in this weekend of celebration of heritage and encourage visitors to join in.
Accompanying this weekend of open doors are concerts, performances, exhibitions and many other free events encouraging everyone to take advantage of this unusual offer and make the most of the weekend.
In Paris you can take a trip behind the scenes at the Paris Opera or the Sorbonne, enter the Presidential Palace – the Palais d’Elysée – or even the Bank of France building at the Hôtel de Toulouse – though you can’t see the Gold Reserves!
This weekend is not just about Paris though – all regions of France participate and its an excellent opportunity to see behind the scenes at chateaus, churches and public buildings everywhere – often free. Some visits do require a reservation in advance, details are online at the website below.
Les Journées Européennes du Patrimoine takes place from Saturday through Sunday – mid September each year – check the official website for dates, details and a list of events:
The website is in French with a translation app which isn’t perfect but its enough for English speakers to get the main details!
You can choose the region of department you are interested in, the type of visit you are interested in for example: military, religious, rural and many more.
You can also choose the theme of your visit: archaeology, entertainment, castle, place of power – there are many options to choose from.