European Heritage Day is the ideal way for you to discover France’s beautiful treasures. From 21 to 22 September, many of the castles, museums, monuments, theaters, cinemas, and various other cultural places open their doors to the public for free. If ever there was a time to enjoy guided tours, workshops, exhibitions, and beautiful animations, it is now!
Today and tomorrow, you have the perfect opportunity to experience what’s behind the usually closed doors, as well as to discover some of the most unusual spots and hidden gems Paris and France have to offer.
Family, friends, couples, kids, lonely souls - there’s something here for everyone! Whether you’re a fan of art or history, you’ll have plenty of cause to delight this weekend. Here’s our selection of what you have to look forward to:
Program - 2019 Heritage Days in Paris
Court of Cassation
Location: 5 quai de l'Horloge 75001 Paris
The supreme court, which was created in 1790, occupies a spectacular building that was restored between 1861 and 1892. This area is steeped in history, and you’ll be able to get a guided tour through the building by one of the Court of Cassation members. The supreme court is located in the Paris courthouse and has the highest jurisdiction in the judiciary. It has the task of ensuring uniform interpretation of the law in the entire territory. The tour continues with a visit to the Court of Appeal.
Palais-Royal: Ministry of Culture, Council of State and Constitutional Council
Location: Place Colette 75001 Paris
This palace was the residence of Louis XIV, after which it was home to members of the House of Orleans. It then became home to Jerome Bonaparte before being transformed into housing for four institutions by the Ministry of Culture in France. You can visit this storied place for free this weekend. There are collaborators from the institutions and guides on-site to answer your questions about the history of the places. There are also fun activities planned for the public by the Nestle France Foundation.
Space Observatory - Headquarters of the National Center for Space Studies
Location: 2 place Maurice-Quentin 75001 Paris
The National Center for Space Studies has the task of developing, proposing, and leading the French space policy. Created in 1961, this organization’s actions place space and related space activities at the core of many concerns, including heritage, literary, and artistic fields of knowledge. Here you’ll find an exhibition ‘Dissipation’ which approaches the history of space in a more original way.
Location: 1 boulevard Poissonnière 75002 Paris
The Grand Rex is Europe’s largest hall. It has a capacity of over 2,800 spectators and it contains many treasures that you’re sure to appreciate. From Art Deco facade and starry vault to Baroque and Mediterranean decorations, you’re sure to discover a lot of exciting new things about the building’s history and architecture when you take a guided tour.
National Theater of the Opéra-Comique
Location: 1 place Boieldieu 75002 Paris
The Opéra-Comique is among France’s oldest cultural institutions. Its original repertoire combines operatic and theater singing. There are many masterpieces that have been produced here, including The Tales of Hoffmann, Carmen, and The Damnation of Faust. This weekend, you get a free visit and a guided tour to experience this amazing Parisian treasure for yourself.
Palace of the Commercial Court of Paris
Location: 1 quai de Corse 75004 Paris
The Palace of the Commercial Court of Paris was built in the period between 1859 and 1864 as part of the overall plan for the redevelopment of Paris. This was called for by the Prefect of the Seine, together with Napoleon III. The building was designed and built by Architect Antoine-Nicolas Bailly and includes courtrooms decorated in the essence and style of decorative arts. This free guided tour will certainly leave you with once-in-a-lifetime memories.
Paris City Hall
Location: 3 rue Lobau 75004 Paris
Following a fire in 1871, the Paris City Hall was rebuilt and inaugurated on July 1882. The architects who designed the building, Ballu and Depethes, created it in the neo-Renaissance style. Here you’ll experience a set of sumptuous halls and salons, each reserved for the work of the municipality’s elected officials. During European Heritage Day, you’ll get a free guided tour to see the reception rooms, library, etc.
The Mouffetard, theater of puppetry art
Location: 73 rue Mouffetard 75005 Paris
The puppet theater in the heart of the city was established after two decades of nomadism. This theater is unique in France and is dedicated to the promotion of the puppet arts. With shows geared toward both adults and young people, everyone is sure to enjoy a visit to this theater. During this weekend, you can get a free guided tour where school children get to make their own puppets and show.
Location: 53 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs 75006 Paris
Created by two young writers, comedians, and directors, Luce Berthomme and Christian Le Guillochet, the Le Lucernaire was formerly located at rue d’Odessa. They imagined a unique place in the city open to every form of artistic expression. Now, the Lucernaire is comprised of three cinemas, three theaters, an exhibition gallery, a drama school, and a book store. You can visit all these for free this weekend.
Embassy of Italy
Location: 47 rue de Varenne 75007 Paris
The embassy is housed in a palace that was built in 1732. The building was first rented by canoness of Remiremont, Marie de Boisgelin, and then by the archbishop of Aix-en-Provence, Raymond de Boisgelin. By the end of the 18th century, the Rouchefoucaud-Doudeauville family acquired the hotel de Boisgelin and it became the hotel La Rochefoucauld-Doudeauville. They occupied it for over a century, during which time the building underwent major restoration work. Bought in 1937, by the Caisse des Depots et Consignation, the building was then given in long lease to the Italian Government.
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
Location: 15 avenue Montaigne 75008 Paris
This is one place you absolutely should not miss visiting during Heritage Day. Built by a group of artists in 1913, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées is the first theater in Paris to be constructed entirely of reinforced concrete. It perpetuates a century of tradition involving eclectic, quality programming. This theater’s artistic adventure is illustrated by the presence of prestigious artists noted in the history of opera, music, and dance. A free guided tour of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées this weekend will allow you to discover the theater’s many animations.