European Heritage Days in Paris

History of the Heritage Days

In 1984, Jack Lang, Minister of Culture under François Mitterrand's government, introduced an "Open House Day in historical monuments". The aim of the event was to allow visitors to discover or rediscover French history through art in general: sculpture, painting, architecture, etc. Many monuments, some of which were closed to the public for the rest of the year, opened their doors. The first edition took place on 23 September 1984 and was an immediate success.

At the second Council of Europe conference in Granada, Spain, on 3 October 1985, the French minister proposed that the event become European.

In 1991, the Council of Europe officially instituted European Heritage Days.

In 1992, in France, this operation was extended from one to several days. The event took the name of National Heritage Days, again on the initiative of Jack Lang, who had returned to his post at the Ministry of Culture.

From 1993 onwards, 34 European countries joined in the event, offering visits to more than 26,000 monuments.

In 2000, 40 countries participated in the Heritage Days, making it one of the first major international cultural events. With the Minister of Culture Catherine Tasca, this festival changed its name to its current name: the European Heritage Days or JEP. The event was extended to other countries in the following years.

More than 50 countries around the world now participate in the event. Public monuments offer free admission. The majority of private establishments offer reduced rates.

Visitors can discover the historical heritage of civil or religious monuments, but also agricultural and industrial heritage, as well as know-how. The event raises awareness of Europe's cultural richness and diversity, as well as the need to preserve its heritage.

Theme of the European Heritage Days 2022

For the 39th edition, the theme of the European Heritage Days 2022 is Sustainable Heritage. The theme is set by the Council of Europe and the European Commission.

With all the ecological and global warming issues, this theme is very topical. The different actors of the event are preparing the heritage of tomorrow for a more sustainable future. Archaeological sites, museums, archives, private and public historical monuments and holders of practices recognised as intangible cultural heritage are all reviewing practices, lessons learned from traditions and the continuity of know-how from a sustainable point of view.

The UN's Agenda 2030 has set sustainable development goals. Thus, heritage professionals favour restorations that take into account re-use and natural materials, as close as possible to environmental requirements.

Heritage contributes to the dynamism of territories which can develop both from an economic and a tourist point of view. Also, the know-how present throughout the territory is preserved and perpetuated. Finally, heritage is a resource of local jobs that cannot be relocated.

Programme of the Heritage Days 2022

Take advantage of the European Heritage Days to visit the main monuments in Paris. You can choose between guided tours, activities and workshops.

Many monuments usually closed to the public open their doors for the occasion. Hundreds of the city's most important monuments and tourist sites will be open free of charge during this exceptional weekend. Here are some examples:

  • The Elysée Palace. You will be able to visit the reception rooms and the main salons.
  • The Hôtel de Matignon. You will have the opportunity to visit the official residence and workplace of the Prime Minister as well as its 3 hectare park located behind the building.
  • The National Assembly will also be open exceptionally.
  • The Monnaie de Paris will offer free workshops and guided tours for the whole family.
  • The Arc de Triomphe will be open for free.
  • Many churches will offer free and guided tours.
  • The Sorbonne. You can discover the history of this building.
  • The Louis Vuitton Foundation will be open to the public free of charge.
  • The Cité de la Mode et du Design will also be accessible.
  • The Belfry of Montrouge. You will be able to admire a panoramic view of the capital.
  • The Philharmonie de Paris will open its doors to the public free of charge.
  • Parisian theatres such as the Comédie Française will offer guided tours of parts of the building that are usually closed to the public.

Discover Paris from another angle thanks to our Paris by Night tour. Take advantage of this unique experience to admire the City of Light shining with a thousand lights.