What to See in France During the European Heritage Days 

What to See in France During the European Heritage Days 

The European Heritage Days take place this weekend and many of France’s historical and cultural buildings will be opening their doors on September 16-17 to the public for free  

This year marks the 40th anniversary of this cultural event which is celebrating the themes of Sports Heritage, in the run-up to the 2024 Olympics, and “Patrimoine Vivant”, underlying the rich heritage of crafts, know-hows and traditions in France. It offers a unique opportunity to explore and appreciate the diverse heritage of France, and is a perfect excuse to visit one of the more than 100 monuments under the umbrella of Centre des Monuments Nationaux. From grand palaces to humble village churches and significant industrial sites, the Journées du Patrimoine are a joy to discover these sites while learning about their significance and historical context.  

Use the interactive map on the official website of the event to find what’s happening near you in France: https://journeesdupatrimoine.culture.gouv.fr/programme#/[email protected],3.5111403,6.00 

Here is a small selection of some of the more unusual places to visit and tours to follow. Seize these quirky opportunities to visit unique locations.

The Notre-Dame construction “village”, Paris 

Fondation Simone et Cino del Duca, Paris – opening for the first time to the public 

Nocturnal visit of Lyon, Rhône – following a conference on “Lyon, a city of lights” 

Meet the artists and craftspeople from the Chartrons district, Bordeaux, Gironde 

La Chapelle Fromentin, Mille Plateaux, La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime – visit this National Choreography Centre and enjoy a special projection. 

The Abeille Liberté tug boat, Cherbourg, Manche 

Musée du Carillon, Tourcoing, Nord – free guided visits of the bell tower on Sunday September 17th 

La Ravin du Loup, Laffaux, Aisne – free guided tour of this WWII site which held Hitler’s headquarters. 

Musée Charles Milcendeau, Saint-Jean de Monts, Vendée – after a visit to the museum, enjoy a traditional ball where you can learn the local dances from the surrounding marshland and the nearby islands to the sound of a violin and an accordion! 

Musée Atelier in Barfleur, Manche – boat rides, boat-building demonstrations, concerts and local tale readings. 

Musée d’Archéologie Nationale, Saint-Germain-en-Laye – discover the Edouard Piette collection, exceptionally open to the public  

Dijon’s sports heritage, Dijon, Côte-d’Or – enjoy a bike ride around the city to uncover the city’s sporty heritage. 

Domaine du château de Bonnier de la Mosson, Montpellier, Hérault – a host of activities are taking place celebrating the 300th anniversary of the beginning of its construction. 

Visit a Breton fishery, near Pornic, Loire-Atlantique 

Lead photo credit : Lyon by night © prochasson frederic / shutterstock

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