One of our favorite fall events in France is the Journées Européens du Patrimoine, or European Heritage Days. Taking place this weekend, the Journées du Patrimoine is an opportunity to visit a wide variety of historic monuments: some well known, some unusual and some that are not open to the public at any other time. In other words, it’s free, “open-door” access to incredible landmarks.
Originally founded by Jack Lang, the former French Minister of Culture, European Heritage Days hopes to “raise the awareness of European citizens to the richness and cultural diversity of Europe”. Museums like the Louvre, the Army Museum at Invalides and Cluny offer special tours and ateliers. Here we’ve rounded up some of the interesting places to visit in Paris. As some sites (like the Palais d’Elysée, the Hotel de Ville) are incredibly popular, and attract long lines, we recommend checking out the intriguing, offbeat areas of the capital. Note that some require reservations so plan ahead to avoid disappointment.
Cité de Refuge. Architecture buffs will want to check out this building designed by Le Corbusier in the 1930s as social housing—managed today by the Fondation de l’Armée du Salut (Salvation Army). 12 rue Cantagrel, 75013. Guided tours on Saturday and Sunday at 9 am- 1 pm and 2 pm- 5 pm.
Poilâne. Discover the historic bakery and its wood-fired ovens, learn about the savoir-faire of its artisans, followed by a tasting of the delicious breads. Free guided tours will take place on Saturday (online reservations necessary): 12:30 AM, 6:45 AM, 8:45 AM, and 10:45 AM. 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th arrondissement.
Balade en Bus with the RATP. Embark on a tour of the capital in the legendary “TN4 H” bus, first put into service in 1936. Departure from the Maison de la RATP 189 rue de Bercy in the 12th arrondissement. Saturday from 9 am- 1 pm and Sunday from 10 am- 12 noon, 1 pm- 5 pm. Free, reservations necessary with on-site registration.
Belleville Underground. The Regard de La Lanterne constitutes the top of the Belleville Grand Aqueduct, the most important vestige of the medieval water system which supplied the earliest Parisian fountains. This is one of the few heritage classified sites in the East of the city, situated in a public garden in the middle of the working-class Place des Fêtes neighborhood. Saturday and Sunday from 1 pm- 6 pm, 3 rue Compans, at the corner of the rue de Belleville in the 19th arrondissement.
Art Deco Pool. Located in a village-like neighborhood on a hilltop in the 13th arrondissement, the piscine de la Butte-aux-Cailles is an Art Deco monument which was recently renovated. Guided tours will even unveil the technical aspects of the pool. Saturday and Sunday, 10 am- 5 pm. 5, place Paul Verlaine, 13th arrondissement.
Lead photo credit : Le regard de la Lanterne/ courtesy of the city of Paris