European Heritage Days

One-off openings, behind the scenes, little-known places ... 10 one-of-a-kind free visits to explore Paris from a different angle.

For 35 years, European Heritage Days have been inviting visitors to discover areas of iconic cultural sites and entire places in Paris that are not usually open to the public. An outstanding programme makes this weekend a highlight of the post-summer holiday period.

In 2020, Heritage Days take place on 19 and 20 September with the theme "‘Heritage and Education: learning for life!". There is something for everyone and for all ages ... events in unusual places, discovery trails, workshops and more! Here is a little glimpse of what is in store for you:

Visit of the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall)

Hôtel de Ville de Paris, extérieur façade © Fotolia - jorisvo

Registration required, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5.30pm

Paris City Hall offers two exhibitions on the history of Paris as well as tours of the reception rooms, the boardroom and the Mayor's office. Visitors can also discover the expertise of the crafts people who ensure the upkeep of the City Hall - locksmiths, upholsterers, watchmakers, painters, light specialists, parquet floor experts, heating engineers, painters and industrialists. Alongside them, the Union Rempart association gives demonstrations of stonecutting.

Visits of the Cité Universitaire pavilions

Permanent exhibition on 19 and 20 September from 2 to 6pm.
Maison de la Suède (Sweden): saturday from 3.pm to 5.pm  
Maison de l’Allemagne (Germany) : sunday from 2.pm, 15h et 16h
Maison de l’Espagne (Spain): saturday from 2.pm to 6.pm
Maison du Portugal (Portugal): sunday from 4.pm to 5.pm
Maison du Canada (Canada): saturday from 2.pm to 6.pm
Maison de la Tunisie: (Tunisia) exhibition Saturday from 2pm to 5pm and visit Sunday from 3pm to 4pm.

For 95 years now, students from all over the world have been coming to stay in the forty unique houses of residence on the campus of the Cité Universitaire Internationale. Six houses are organizing visits and special activities: a reading of ‘Les Suédois Invisibles’ by Selma Lagerlöf , a photo exhibition on the city and the University of Salamanca, a screening of the film ‘31 boulevard Jourdan’ on the history of the Canadian pavilion, and an exhibition on Tunisian calligraphy reveal the vibrant and rich culture of the Cité.

Visit of the Institut de France

Institut de France, Paris © Thinkstock

Saturday and Sunday from 9.am to 6.pm

The Institut de France, an institution as old as it is mysterious, invites you to step through its main door and discover the main courtyard, the Mazarine library, the various meeting rooms, the new auditorium, the Dome ... It is within these walls, some of which are 350 years old, that the five academies work: Académie Française, des Sciences, des Beaux-arts, des Sciences Morales et Politiques and des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres. Some academicians will be present to sign their work.

Visit of the Palais de la Porte Dorée

Palais de la porte dorée - Musée de l'immigration © Formosa Wandering

Quick visit: Saturday and Sunday from de 10h30 à 12h30 et de 14h à 18h, at the start of every hour
Roof visit: Saturday and Sunday from à 10h30, 12h, 15h et 16h30
VIP visit: Saturday and Sunday from 11.am, 2.pm  17h
Visit of flora and fauna: saturday from 10.30am and 12.00pm, sunday from 2.30pm
Family workshops: mosaic in paper: Saturday and Sunday from 10.am from 12.30pm (3-5 yrs), 2.30pm from 5.30pm (6-10yrs)

The former ‘museum of the colonies, the Palais de la Porte Dorée was built in monumental Art Deco style, fashionable at the time of its creation in 1931. Inside this amazing building, you can find out more about the history of Immigration, past and contemporary, through personal testimonies, objects and documents on the destiny of immigrants in the Donation Gallery or even in the Tropical Aquarium. A special treat, the roof of the Palace will be exceptionally open to the public!

Visit of the Grand Rex

Salle Panoramique du Grand Rex, Paris © DR

Self-guided visit saturday from 9h à 13h, sunday from 9.am to 5.pm
Visit with audio guide from 10.am to 8.pm, 5 euros.

The Grand Rex, an emblematic place for cinema and entertainment, is a listed historical monument and has the largest movie theatre in Europe! The history of its construction in the 1930s, anecdotes about the shows and a visit to its Big Auditorium are all worth discovering. A more in-depth tour takes you behind the scenes of a film studio, from the projection booth to the special effects room.

Visit of Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann - Façade HSM international la nouvelle Parisienne 2019

Saturday from 8.30am to 9.30am and from 9.30am to 10.30am
Sunday from 9.am to 10.am and from 10.am to 11.am
Registration on the website

It will soon be 125 years since Galeries Lafayette Haussmann opened its doors, in the era of department stores and Art Nouveau. Discover the superb dome, dating back to 1912, the ironwork, various archives and an interactive itinerary providing a valuable insight into the development of this store – an emblem of Parisian fashion and commerce since 1894.

Visite of the Cité de la Musique

Cité de la musique - Philharmonie de Paris - Bâtiment, Paris

Saturday from 10.am to 18.pm

The Philharmonie de Paris are putting the Beatles in the spotlight this year! Visitors can enjoy a concert tour to the rhythm of the band's legendary songs and see some of their instruments such as the 1957 Telecaster guitar or Ringo Starr’s Ludwig drum kit. Also open, the museum's permanent collection where you can discover 1,000 instruments and rare objects such as an octobass, a sheng or a glass flute.

Visite of the Musée Jean-Jacques Henner

Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner, atelier du 1er étage, Paris © Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner

Saturday and Sunday from 11.am to 18.pm

The museum is situated in the former home of the painter Guillaume Dubufe. This beautiful mansion built under the Third Republic houses the work of Jean-Jacques Henner, winner of the Grand Prix de Rome for painting in 1858. Admire paintings as well as furniture from various artistic periods, from Neoclassicism to Symbolism.

Visit of the Musée des arts forains

Musée des arts forains © Sébastien Siraudeau

Booking required, Saturday and Sunday 16 euros adults, 8 euros children (4-11 ans)
Possibility of winning a free visit thanks to a draw: send name, first name, postal code, e-mail address and telephone number to communication@pavillons-de-bercy.com before September 14, and specify desired time slot: Friday 18 in the morning, or Saturday 19 in the morning or afternoon.

This year, only participatory guided tours are organized at the museum of Fairground Arts. Actor guides take visitors of all ages through different settings: the Venice Carnival, the extraordinary gardens, the cabinets of curiosities or the Belle Époque fairgrounds that decorate the backstage area of this living museum.

Visit of the Université de la Sorbonne

La Sorbonne - Cour d'honneur, Paris

Registration on website. Saturday and Sunday from 10.am to 5.pm

The magnificent architecture and fascinating history of the iconic Sorbonne University can be discovered through talks and a tour of the salons, statues, amphitheatres, the Chapel, the Library, and the Salle des Autorités. This year, stencil artist Christian Guémy presents a series of paintings representing seven women who studied or taught at the Sorbonne, titled ‘To Great Women, the Sorbonne is grateful’.

Saint-Sulpice church

Eglise Saint Sulpice, Paris © Thinkstock

Self-guided tour saturday and sunday from 9.00 am to 7.00pm
Guided tours saturday from 10.am, 11.am,  2.30pm, 3.30pm and 4.30pm, sunday from 2.pm and 4.30pm
Treasures on show saturday from 10.30am to 6.30 and sunday from 12.30pm to 6.30pm
Presentation of organs sunday to 3.pm to 4.pm

Classified as a historical monument for more than 100 years, the Church of Saint-Sulpice was declared a listed monument more than 100 years ago and has treasures for every taste. An exhibition presents the church’s chapels and brotherhoods; the astronomical gnomon is visible between 1.15pm and 2.15 pm when daylight falls on the meridian of Saint-Sulpice; several works are on show such as paintings by Delacroix (Saturday from 11am to 12 pm) and liturgical ornaments. Finally, the church organs will be played during a concert visible on a large screen.

Visit of the Maison Chloé

Guided visit by appointment: 01.47.23.92.85, saturday and sunday from 10.30am, 1.pm, 1.30pm, 3.pm, 4.30pm and 6.pm.

A flagship institution of French fashion, this year Maison Chloé offers a visit around the notion of fluidity. A selection of pieces from the heritage collection highlights fluid fabrics, clothes without rigid structure, freedom of movement ... So many ways to liberate the body and which are at the heart of the creations of Maison Chloé.

Visit of the gardens of the Palais Royal

Visit on the tree: 10.30 am and 4.30pm
Visit on the promenade: 6pm
Visit on the history of the Palais-Royal: 4pm
Visit on the Orléans: 2.pm
Napoleon workshop: 11.30.am and 3.pm
Richelieu workshop: 10.30.am and 4.pm
Same times Saturday and Sunday, visits with prior registration: 01.47.03.92.16.

The Palais-Royal has come up with lots of themes relating to its gardens: the presence of the tree from the 17th century until the Revolution, the public promenade and anecdotes about outdoor activities in the 18th century, the history of the Palais-Royal and the residence of the Orleans can be listened to as you stroll around. Workshops themed around Napoleon's hat or Richelieu's cat allow them to learn while having fun.  

Visit of the greenhouses of the Luxembourg Gardens

Jardin du Luxembourg - serres © Sénat / Cécilia Lerouge

Saturday and Sunday from 10am. to 6.pm
Entrance at 4, rue Auguste Comte

The greenhouses of the Luxembourg Gardens represent a botanical heritage dating from the 19th century. They offer some beautiful surprises: the cultivation and the diverse collections of fruit, tropical plants and orchids are commentated on by the gardeners of the Senate. The latter organize guided tours and give advice to botanical enthusiasts.

Visit of the Ivry-Paris locomotive depot

Saturday and Sunday from 2.30 pm to 6.30 pm

Members of the COPEF association (Cercle Ouest Parisien d'Études Ferroviaires) take visitors on an exciting tour of the former steam locomotive depot in Paris-Ivry. These mechanical and industrial engineering enthusiasts also introduce the public to the historic 2D2 5525 locomotives, which was put into service in 1934 and classified as a historical monument in 1990!