Newsletter Archives

July 2000 - National Heritage Days - Open House in France

Since 1984, France has opened its doors on selected days to allow citizens and tourists to visit locations representative of its national heritage. This celebration of French heritage is called the Journées du Patrimoine. Many monuments and sites that are normally closed to the public are open on two days in September. Entry is free for most sites. Entry to some sites, such as the Palais de l’Elysée, requires presentation of a personal identity card (passport). Last year the event attracted 11.5 million visitors to 14,000 monuments and sites around the country. This year, the National Heritage Days will be held on September 16 and 17.

In 1999 a number of architectural marvels in Paris were open during this special event. Here are only a few:

  • Palais de l’Elysée (home of the President of the Republic since 1873) – Designed by Armand-Claude Mollet, the palace was constructed in 1718 for the Count of Evreux. A number of notables have lived in the palace including Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV. The main courtyard and the ground floor rooms were open to the public.
  • Hôtel Matignon (home of the Prime Minister since 1935) – Designed by Jean Courtonne, construction for the hôtel was begun for the Prince de Tingry in 1721. It was here that Antoine Carême, the famous cook of Charles-Maurice Talleyrand, produced lavish dinner parties. A part of the hôtel was open for guided tours.
  • Hôtel de Ville de Paris (Paris town hall) – This edifice is a 19th century reproduction of the original, designed in the 16th century by Domenico da Cortona (Il Boccador). The reception room, decorated by 19th century paintings, was open to the public.

    Take advantage of the month of September to discover churches, mairies (town halls), abbeys, and former private mansions in Paris and throughout Ile-de-France during these days of free access to France’s treasures. September is one of the best times to visit Paris. The weather is mild (average daily temperature is 61° F) and the days are still long (approximately 12 hours of sunlight) – perfect for an excursion into one of the départements surrounding Paris or for wandering through the many arrondissements of the City of Light. For history and architecture enthusiasts, enchantment awaits you in the ballrooms, corridors and stairways steeped in proud French tradition.

Paris Panorama Newsletters for 2000