If you’re a culture enthusiast, mark your calendars for an insightful and enriching weekend this September. The much-anticipated Journées du Patrimoine, or Heritage Days, is a significant event across Europe where museums, monuments, châteaux, private sites, and major institutions make their premises accessible to the public.
Not only does this weekend provide opportunities to gain further wisdom on Paris’ iconic landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Palais de l’Elysée, but it also provides the opportunity to explore more unusual sites that remain otherwise closed to the public.
Each year, the event brings to light exceptional and unexpected sites across all corners of the Paris region. The Heritage Days are all about digging deep into known and obscure locations.
It’s an event that you wouldn’t want to miss, especially considering that most events are free! Both Paris and the entire Île-de-France region are participating in this edition, which is scheduled for the weekend of September 15 to 17, 2023. Here are some of our recommendations.
293 Av. Daumesnil, 12th Arrondissement
Created in 1931, le Salon des Laques within the Palais de la Porte Dorée has remained hidden from the public eye. However, to mark the 40th edition of European Heritage days, and thanks to the patronage of Christian Louboutin, the Sommer Foundation, and Réjane Lacoste, the people of Paris now have the opportunity to explore this unique space. Discover the room’s abundance of Art Deco furniture, such as pieces by architect Albert Laprad (1883-1978), and lacquer panels by the decorator Jean Dunand (1877-1942). These masterpieces, once invisible, have now been given the spotlight to boast of their beauty.
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67-69 Avenue Pierre-Mendès-France, 13th arrondissement
Do you have an interest in media, current affairs, or architecture? Then the Le Monde Festival is the event for you! Each year, Le Monde hosts their exciting festival for European Heritage Days. For one weekend, and one weekend only, the headquarters of Le Monde will open to the public. But this year is different, because their headquarters has moved and now occupies the impressive and futuristic building on 67-69 Avenue Pierre-Mendès-France in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. Enjoy a free tour of these new premises, and wait eagerly for their “surprise” guest!
le19M, 2 Place Skanderbeg, 19th arrondissement
le19M is an extraordinary feat of architectural genius, located between Paris and Aubervilliers, and for the first year, the site has decided to participate in European Heritage Days. The development of le19m began in 1985, when CHANEL bought the first artisanal workshops (embroiderers, feather workers, weavers, bootmakers and glovers) who supply the luxury maison. Now, in 2023, le19m hosts 11 of these groups and their teams, meaning that nearly 600 artisans and experts are represented in this one building, perpetuating a centuries-old savoir-faire. The “19” signifies its location in the 19th arrondissement, along with Coco Chanel’s birthday, and the “M” for métiers d’Art, mode, main, maison, and manufacture. The free Heritage Days tour will guide visitors through the Maison Lesage embroidery school, an overview of the bespoke shoemaker Massaro, and the brand new exhibition at la Galerie du 19m. This event is a fashion lover’s dream, so be sure not to miss out on this one-off event.
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L’Hôtel de Sens, 3rd arrondissement
One of the oldest mansions in Paris, the Hôtel de Sens is a marvelous medieval building that is esteemed for its gothic architecture. Within this mansion is the Bibliothèque Forney – a library specialized in applied arts, and graphic arts and crafts, that is not normally open to the public. Explore the precious collections maintained by the library, with an emphasis on historical and current fashion trends, in association with Ecole Duperré. In addition to this, you have the opportunity to tour the spacious reading room, get insights into the library’s document conservation department activities, and garner knowledge about the diverse and noteworthy documents curated by the librarians. Further, in the courtyard, the Paris Historique association offers an enlightening presentation about the history of the Hôtel de Sens.
Notre-Dame de Paris, l’Île de la Cité, 4th arrondissement
Engage with the various trades involved in the heroic restoration operations of Notre-Dame de Paris by placing yourself at the center of the process. The 40th edition of the European Heritage Days will present an extraordinary experience driven by the public institution overseeing the cathedral’s conservation and restoration. The event will feature a village of construction workshops hosted in front of the cathedral, offering insight into the restoration endeavors. The weekend will be packed with interactive presentations, discussions, and opportunities for hands-on experience from professionals working on the monument’s renaissance.
Lead photo credit : Directional signpost to Parisian landmarks in central Paris. Photo credit: Natalia Bratslavsky/ Shutterstock
More in Bibliothèque Forney, European Heritage Days, Events, Journées du Patrimoine, Le 19m de Chanel, Le Monde Festival, Le Salon des Laques at Palais de la Porte Dorée, Le Village du Chantier de Notre-Dame, Paris Heritage