For the non European readers, it’s a joint action of 50 European states to unveil their heritage and offer opportunities to visit buildings, monuments and sites usually closed to the public.
This event started in 1984 in France. Since then it became a very famous event held every third weekend of September.
As I explained last year, it offers interesting opportunities to visit very selective sites, usually closed to the public but the reverse of the fame are the very long lines before entering.
This year theme is 21st Century Heritage, a Story of the Future.
As always there is a program available on line but only in French and not very easy to navigate. You can also download the Ile de France program which is easier to read.
As always, most Parisian museums will be free and will often offer free commented visits but sadly only in French. I only found a few in English in the list below.
Almost every churches in the city will be open with commented tours as well.
Some gardens usually closed might be open, so pay attention when walking through the city!
There are more than 1.600 buildings opened this year, so I thought I could give you an excerpt of what could be exceptional or interesting or fun.
The famous jeweller of the Place Vendôme opens its doors for a free visit behind the scenes.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France
The building located rue de Richelieu will be open only on Sunday from 10am to 7pm. They are currently going under a massive renovation but the beautiful Ovale Room will be open and will display collections from the Institut National de l’Histoire de l’Art.
The ex Paris Stock Exchange will be open only on Saturday from 10am to 5pm.
The lovely mansion of The Swedish Institute will offer commented visites in French every 20 minutes during the weekend.
A guided tour about the amazing architecture of the hotel Salé (building of the museum) is offered during those 2 days from 11am to 3pm.
Entry tickets needed.
Abbaye Royale du Val de Grâce
You can visit the church, the cloister, the choir of the nuns and the old chapter house. The royal abbey is today a part of the military hospital of Paris.
Lycée Henri IV
Have you ever wonder how was an old French high school? This one is one of the oldest and one of the most elitist of France.
Beaux Arts de Paris
The beautiful building of the School of Fine Arts of Paris will be open from 11am to 5pm during the weekend.
Guided tours will be available in French.
Institut de France
Facing the Pont des Arts, the French Institute is a French learned society, grouping five académies, the most famous of which is the Académie française.
They are exceptionally open on Sunday from 9am to 5pm.
Hôtel de Matignon – Prime Minister
Prepare for a very long line if you are interesting in the residence of the French Prime Minister!
Only on Saturday from 10am to 6pm.
Military books signings, lectures about Napoleon, concert, exhibition and even a movie in the evening are offered to the visitors by the Ecole Militaire!
Hôtel de Charost, the British Ambassador’s Residence in Paris
Finally a link in English! The Residence will be open only on Saturday from 10am to 5pm.
Palais de l’Elysée, Residence of the President of the French Republic
As for the Residence of the Prime Minister, this is one of the most popular site of the Heritage Days!
Open only on Saturday from 10am to 7pm.
Galeries Lafayette or Printemps
Both department stores of the boulevard Haussmann offer guided tours of the stores and behind the scenes. It’s a first for Printemps on the year they celebrate their 150 years.
Both offer tours in English.
Musée des Arts Forains
The fairground art museum usually only open on booking. It’s a nice place to visit and play without any problem of language. If you have kids with you, it’s a must see! It’s not free but there is a special price for the Heritage Days (5€ under 18 years old or 8€).
Information in English.
Piscine de la Butte aux Cailles
Take of advantage of this weekend to visit the beautiful Art Deco swimming pool of the lovely Butte aux Cailles.
Sunday from 9am to 10:30am and from 1pm to 2:30pm
Fondation Jérôme Seydoux – Pathé
Fan of architecture, this one is for you! Go visit the Renzo Piano building, the art of inserting a building into an historical city.
The international campus of Paris offers a large program for the Heritage Days. Check the website (in French) if you are interested in architecture, arts, ecology, shared gardening…
The campus itself is interesting to visit.
The French public national television broadcaster will open their doors and let the public visit the building, recording studios and headquarters.
Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 7pm but depending on the crowd, they might close at 12pm.
Château de la Muette – OECD
The general public can visit OECD Headquarters and the historic castle.
Guided tours in several languages approximately 30 minutes every half hour until 4:30pm
Maison de la Radio
You can visit the building of the French public radio but you can also go to listen to several concerts. Check the program in French.
Philarmonie de Paris
The brand new Philarmonie designed by architect Jean Nouvel offers free concert on Saturday and Sunday.
You can also use the post from last year as most of the sites reopen every year. It will give you other ideas for the weekend.
As I told you in the beginning of the post, be aware that it could be crowdy depending on the sites you will choose. So try to be there early, don’t overestimate the number of tours you want to attend and be patient!
And I would be so glad to hear from you if you visit anything from these Heritage Days in Paris. Be sure to share your experience!