Each September during the European Heritage Days (Journées du Patrimoine) visitors and residents alike have the unique opportunity to discover museums, monuments, and private spaces that are otherwise closed to the public. These days provide a fantastic look into some of France’s most spectacular sites. This year, the Journées du Patrimoine are September 17th and 18th. We’re sharing some of our top picks for what to see during the 2022 European Heritage Days in France.
What To See During European Heritage Days 2022
The French Ministry of Culture created the Journées du Patrimoine in 1984. They take place on the third weekend of September and see approximately 12 million visitors annually. One of the purposes of the Journées du Patrimoine is to highlight the unique stories, histories, and collections of the 17,000 participating sites. These places include embassies, theaters, hospitals, schools, castles, factories and more.
Because of their popularity, the European Heritage Days can involve some time spent queuing in line. Since the pandemic, there has been a shift towards using a reservation system. While not every place has adopted this system yet, more and more places are starting to.
The 2022 European Heritage Days theme is Sustainable Heritage in light of the context of climate change. You can browse an interactive map of participating sites here.
Paris and Île-de-France
You’ll find options galore during the Journées du Patrimoine in Paris and the Île de France region. Some perennially popular places to visit include the Elysée Palace, Hôtel Matignon, the French Senate, and the Institut de France. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to explore places like the National Assembly, the greenhouses in the Luxembourg Gardens, and the Oratoire du Louvre.
This is also a fantastic time to visit some of the castles in the Île de France region surrounding Paris. You can visit rooms normally closed to the public at Château de Champs-sur-Marne, the dungeon at the Château de Vincennes, and the family-owned Château de Saint-Jean de Beauregard.
Where to Stay in Paris
Hotel Le Roch
With unmistakable, chic Parisian ambiance where visitors can discover charming hospitality, this 5-star in central Paris exudes luxury and opulence.
With a privileged location right in the center of the city, it is only a few minutes walk from all the iconic locations of Paris. The finely decorated elegant rooms offer AC, Bluetooth speaker, flat-screen TV, Tea and Coffee facilities, Codage toiletries and large walk-in showers.
The hotel offers a beautiful swimming pool and a spa at the visitors disposal, where one can enjoy a blissful moment of tranquility after a long day exploring. There is also a mirror-lined fitness center and a hot Hammam. An on-site restaurant serves wonderful culinary creations using seasonal products, and a bar offering original cocktails, prestigious spirits and wonderful champagnes.
There are plenty of ways to celebrate the 2022 European Heritage Days in Normandy. Visit La Poterie du Mesnil de Bavent to discover the finials and other ceramic decorations that adorn the villas on the coast. La Poterie du Mesnil de Bavent has been a specialist since 1842. Along with discovering the company’s savoir-faire, you’ll have the opportunity to visit and experience a craftsman village along with a market with both designers and second-hand dealers.
At famed French interior designer Jacques Garcia’s Domaine du Champ de Bataille there will be a special evening program. Visit the fabulous apartments, tour the exceptionally open Moghol Palace, and visit the French gardens illuminated by candlelight.
In Villedieu-les-Poêles, a town known for its copper production, you can visit the Cornille-Havard bell foundry. This is the foundry that produced the bells for the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.
In the Loire Valley, the Château de Chenonceau has created a special visit that will especially delight visitors aged 7 to 12 years-old. It will be a fun and interactive way for families to discover the Renaissance castle.
At Château de Villandry you can tour the famous French gardens in a horse-drawn carriage. Experience a special guided tour filled with historical anecdotes. Master craftsmen will also be on site to enhance a visit to the château.
Bordeaux and Southwest France
Unique offerings in Bordeaux include tours of forgotten theaters, an ironmaking workshop and demonstration, and a variety of cultural walks. A not to be missed visit is to the Hôtel de Basquiat, a historic building dating from the 18th century. It was built for Joseph Basquiat de Mugriet, adviser to the parliament of Bordeaux. This exceptional residence was completed in 1781 after three years of construction, supervised by the architect François Lhôte.
In Saint-Émilion, visit the largest monolithic church in Europe. Carved out at the beginning of the 12th century, the monolithic church is underground and only visible thanks to its bell tower that reaches 68 meters high. The building is hidden from the eyes of the visitors behind a gothic portal that only the guide can open. A must-see for the European Heritage Days!
In Sarlat, many places that are normally closed to the public will be open including the Lanterns of the Dead and private mansions. Don’t miss Saturday night’s “Heritage Under the Stars” in Sarlat to discover the city’s alleys illuminated by candles.
Where to Stay in Marseille
InterContinental Marseille Hotel-Dieu
This 5-star hotel overlooking the Vieux Port is a Marseille institution. The property was built as a hospital in the 19th-century, and was renovated and converted into a hotel in 2013. The site is much older than that though. There is a 1st-century Roman mosaic on the ground floor and the ruins of the 12-century chapel in the garden.
Enjoy large, comfortable rooms or suites with modern amenities. Some rooms have views on the harbor and/or private terraces.
You’ll want to eat on site. Chef Lionel Levy’s Alcyone, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, earned a Michelin star in 2014. The cuisine is Mediterranean favorites revisited. It combines the best of Mediterranean seafood and local produce from surrounding Provence. Alternatively, Chef Levy also proposes the Les Fenêtres brasserie for a more laid-back dining experience also steeped in Mediterranean tradition.
When booking with French Side Travel, enjoy the following privileges: Guaranteed 2:00pm late check-out, $100 USD value-added amenity (hotel credit), upgrade to next room category (subject to availability on arrival), complimentary Wi-Fi (unlimited devices), Bottled water and fresh fruit/snacks in room upon arrival and turn down service.
Provence and the French Riviera
The Provence region is filled with activities for the European Heritage Days. In Marseille you can exceptionally visit the Fort d’Entrecasteaux, which has been closed to the public since it was built in 1660.
In Nice, to celebrate the ambitious restoration project of La Citadelle, visitors are invited to come and discover the site and the “behind the scenes” of the restorations. Throughout the weekend, meetings with specialized craftsmen and Museums and Cultural Affairs teams will be held.
Lastly, in Roquemaure, participate in a 19th century costumed historical stroll followed by an apéro accompanied by the “Chanteurs des Côtes du Rhône.”
The possibilities are almost limitless when it comes to celebrating the 2022 European Heritage Days in France. Each region puts its cultural gems front and center so that participants can have a deeper understanding of French heritage and culture. French Side Travel offers a whole host of itineraries focused around history and culture including the Provence and French Riviera Discovery Tour, the Highlights of Normandy by Train, and a Classic Tour of the City of Light.