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European Heritage Days in Paris

Les Journées du Patrimoine
September 1, 2023
Once a year, nearly all historical and cultural monuments in Paris open their doors to the public, for free. For 2023, the event falls on September 16th and 17th, so we’re sharing a bit about its history and a few interesting places you might like to check out on the occasion.

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For one weekend a year, historical sites around Paris welcome the public for the European Heritage Days. In 2023, this special event is taking place Saturday and Sunday, September 16 and 17.

During these two days, you’ll be able to enter many museums and monuments for free, and you’ll also get access to some interesting addresses which are typically closed to the public. Government buildings like the Palais de l’Élysée (the French version of the White House) and the Paris City Hall open their doors to visitors, as do many privately-owned mansions, letting locals and tourists alike discover the city’s rich historical, cultural, and architectural heritage.

Inside the Paris Palais de la Justice
Inside the Paris Palais de la Justice

This annual event doesn’t just take place in Paris though. Started in France in 1984 by France’s then-Minister of Culture Jack Lang, the celebration has since spread throughout the European continent and even around the world, often under the name Doors Open Days.

So where should you go if you happen to be in the capital on these special days? There are hundreds of different sights open on this occasion, but we’ve narrowed it down a bit to give you a few ideas of what to do for the European Heritage Days in Paris based on your potential interests.

What to do for the 2023 European Heritage Days in Paris

Politically Minded:

Le Palais de l’Elysée, The President’s Residence

Each year, the Palais de l’Elysée opens it gold-gilded doors to the public on the occasion of the Journées du patrimoine, offering free tours of the French President’s office, state rooms, and gardens. As you can imagine, this is a wildly popular pick, so to avoid hours-long waits, visiting the Elysée requires online registration.

L’Elysée European Heritage Days for 2023 are already full. If you weren’t able to reserve a spot, check out this virtual tour of the Presidential palace instead!

The golden rooms inside the French Presidential residence, the Palais de l'Elysée
Palais de l’Elysée, Salon d’Oré, Photo by vostok 91 [CC BY-SA 2.0].

Assemblée Nationale, French House of Parliament

During the European Heritage Days, the French National Assembly (the country’s lower legislative body, equivalent to the House of Representatives in the United States) welcomes visitors into its home, the historic 18th-century Palais-Bourbon, as well as into its gardens and the residence of the Speaker of the House, the Hôtel de Lassay.

In addition to seeing the ‘hemi-cycle,’ the impressive chamber where voting takes place, visitors will also enjoy an exhibition on the French Revolution.

Reservations are required. Unfortunately, the event is already full for 2023.

Saturday & Sunday, September 16 & 17, 2023 | 9:30–17:30 
126 Rue de l’Université, 75007 Paris

Palais Bourbon in Paris, home to the Assemblée Nationale

History Buffs:

Archives Nationales

Located in Le Marais, the beautiful Hôtel de Rohan is home to the national French archives. Offering guided tours, conferences, demonstrations, and even a few kid-friendly activities, get a peek into the elegant, but usually closed cabinets

Discover all the activities taking place at the Archives Nationales in Paris for the European Heritage Days (French only).

Saturday & Sunday, September 16 & 17, 2023 | 11:00–18:00 
60 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 75003 Paris

The Paris Archives, Hôtel de Soubise
Courtyard of Les Archives Nationales

Mad for Movies:

Le Grand Rex

Visit Europe’s largest movie theater to enjoy the impressive Art Deco architecture and get a sneak peek behind the scenes of the film industry. Le Grand Rex has a stock of movie memorabilia, including costumes, posters, props, and more, with free guided tours on the occasion of the Journées du patrimoine. Tours only available in French.

Reservations are required. Click here to reserve your spot on the official Grand Rex website.

Saturday & Sunday, September 16 & 17, 2023 | 08:30–17:00
1 Boulevard Poissonnière, 75002 Paris


The Grande Salle of the Grand Rex
The Main Auditorium of Le Grand Rex, photo by A.hellman, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé

The little-known Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation works to preserve and promote the historical heritage of the famous Pathé film company. For the 40th edition of the European Heritage Days, the foundation opens its doors for screenings of silent movies, guided tours of its temporary exhibitions, and visits of the collection’s beautiful five-story home.

Saturday & Sunday, September 16 & 17, 2023 | 10:00–18:30
73 Avenue des Gobelins, 75013 Paris

Movie museum at the fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé.Photo courtesy fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé

Architecture Lovers:

Théâtre National de l’Opéra-Comique 

For the 2023 edition of the European Heritage Days, the Opéra-Comique hosts several special events, including artistic workshops for kids, a singing lessons, and guided tours. It’s also a great opportunity to visit this beautiful theater for free.

Click here for a full list of events.

Saturday & Sunday, September 16 & 17, 2023 | 10:00–18:00
1 Pl. Boieldieu, 75002 Paris

Inside Paris's Opéra Comique
Photo courtesy Théâtre National de l’Opéra-Comique, credit Stéfan Brion

Banque de France

We know, a trip to the bank might not sound very exciting, but the gorgeous galleries and opulent interiors of the headquarters of the Bank of France in the Hôtel de Toulouse are exceptional. Along with other special activities and surprises in store for the 2023 European Heritage Days, you’ll also be able to explore the underground gold reserves.

Click here to reserve a free skip-the-line ticket (in French).

Saturday & Sunday, September 16 & 17, 2023 | 10:00–18:00
31 Rue Croix des Petits Champs, 75001 Paris

Interiors of the Banque de France
Photo courtesy Banque de France

Language & Literature Lovers:

Institut de France 

Home of the famous Académie Française — the prestigious and fierce protector of the French language — as well as the four other academies of this important public institution, the Palais de l’Institut de France welcomes visitors into its hallowed hallways again for the 40th edition of the European Heritage Days. Discover the Cour d’Honneur, admire the beautiful dome, visit the beautiful Bibliothèque Mazarine, or even meet some of the académiciens who will be signing their works. 

See the full agenda on the official Institut de France website (French only).

Saturday & Sunday, September 16 & 17, 2023 | 9:00–18:00
23 Quai de Conti, 75006 Paris

Institut de France in Paris

Bibliothèque Mazarine

Within the Institut de France, you’ll find the oldest public library in France, with interiors relatively unchanged since the mid-17th century. Although portions of this magnificent library are always open to the public, during during the Journées du patrimoine, you’ll be able to visit the Grande Galerie and also enjoy an exhibition of selected manuscripts and ancient books. 

Saturday & Sunday, September 16 & 17, 2023 | 09:00–18:00
23 Quai de Conti, 75006 Paris

Reading room of the Bibliothèque Mazarine
Reading room of the Bibliothèque Mazarine – Marie-Lan Nguyen, CC BY 2.0 fr

Budding Botanists:

Greenhouses of the Jardin du Luxembourg

Open exceptionally for the occasion, the greenhouses of the Luxembourg Gardens hold important collections of tropical plants, fruit trees, and also orchids. Gardeners will greet visitors, who will also enjoy installations on the theme of mosaïculture or bedding, the art of creating colorful, temporary flower beds.

Saturday & Sunday, September 16 & 17, 2023 | 10:00–18:00
4 Rue Auguste-Comte, 75006 Paris

Jardin du Luxembourg Paris

Serious Students:

La Sorbonne

On this special weekend, the world-famous French university opens its doors to more than just students. Discover the college’s history as well as its impressive amphitheaters and notable artworks. It’s also a unique opportunity to see inside the chapel, home to Richelieu’s tomb. Kids are welcome and will receive an activity booklet, although it might be in French.

Saturday & Sunday, September 16 & 17, 2023 | 10:00–16:30
45-47 Rue des Écoles, 75005 Paris

La Sorbonne historic Parisian university
Main building of La Sorbonne, Paris’s famous university. Photo by Celette / CC BY-SA.

Editor’s note: Article originally published September 17, 2019. Last updated September 1, 2023.

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