It is this weekend of September 16 and 17 that the European Heritage Days are taking place in France. Inherited from the Open Day created by Jack Lang in 1984, this event allows the public to discover or rediscover sites as varied as they are numerous, and for some, usually closed.
This 40th edition is placed under two themes: “Living Heritage” and “Sports Heritage”. Two themes that resonate with current events, marked by the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO convention for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and by the organization of the Cultural Olympiad, a cultural artistic program which accompanies the arrival of the Games Olympics and Paralympics in France.
The theme of living heritage is an opportunity to discover know-how and traditions. Thus, on the restoration side, the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine in Paris presents the exhibition “Notre-Dame de Paris, from builders to restorers”, in which students from the Ecole du Louvre comment on certain works, including the Rooster of the Arrow of Notre Dame.
The Grande Saline, included on the UNESCO World Heritage list, as well as the Salt Museum of Salins-les-Bains (Jura), are accessible during an “instinctive” guided tour. Not far away, in Besançon, the watchmaking capital, the library and the Observatory park open their doors to allow observation of the sun through astronomical instruments, as well as observation of the starry sky in the park, between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Several original stations are in the spotlight, notably Strasbourg station which is celebrating its 140th anniversary. In Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, the Baie de Somme Railway Association opens the doors of its workshops to showcase preserved know-how and current projects.
On the sports side, the Palais Galliera in Paris presents an exhibition of fashion in sport, “Fashion in motion”. The Théâtre national de Chaillot and the Musée de l’Homme offer a unique discovery of the monument by following the choreographer Mehdi Kerrouche through a danced stroll through the secret passages of the palace.
Like every year, many institutions of the Republic are open to the public. At the Palais-Royal, the Ministry of Culture invites you to discover the minister’s office, the reception rooms, as well as works of contemporary art. As part of the Cultural Olympiad, the Horizon show is presented on the roofs and passageways of the ministry. At the Ministry of the Interior and Overseas, visitors are, as soon as they enter through the Beauvau courtyard, immersed in a sporting atmosphere, with a space hosted by high-level athletes, reservists of the National Police, the Gendarmerie National and Civil Security. They are then invited to discover the lounges of the Beauvau hotel, as well as an exhibition in tribute to Jean Moulin, in the Frignac lounge.
Other unusual places to visit, such as a clandestine street art museum, in the heart of Courneuve, near the RER station in the Paris region. Installed in a former Babcock factory abandoned since 2012, the Babcockerie collective covers hundreds of works of art by around forty street artists.
The complete program of open sites and events is available here.