Thursday, September 12, 2019

Heritage Days are Sept 21 & 22


It's that time again: The 36th annual Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days) takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 21 and 22, in cities and villages all over France. The program was launched by the French Ministry of Culture in 1984 and has since spread all over Europe (officially it's now called European Heritage Days). This year the theme is "Arts & Entertainment" and 17,000 sites in France are participating, with 26,000 events. It's one the biggest events in France and one of my favorite weekends of the year.

The idea is that a wide range of historic monuments, religious sites, estates, gardens,  domaines, workshops, galleries, ateliers, factories and more are open for special visits, including many that are normally closed to the public. Most sites are offering free entry and will have a guide on hand; some are hosting special tours and events (mostly in French). Some may require you to sign up in advance...but for the most part, you just show up. 

The main website is here (or in English here) but you'll fare much better with the department-by-department listings here. Or, check in with the Tourist Office or the tourism website of the village, city or region you want to visit. For example, as of today the department-listings page mentions just six participating sites in my village of St. Remy (in Department #13, the Bouches-du-Rhone) but every year the village publishes its own terrific guide and this year it lists 22 participating sites. You can see them all, with the map, here. If you prefer a printed copy,  you can pick one up at the St. Remy Tourist Office or at most of the participating sites.

Here are programs for AvignonAix, ArlesMarseille and Nice. But don't forget about tiny villages, many of which offer fantastic tours, visits and programs as well.  

The best idea is to choose the village you wish to explore, pick up or download their schedule as early as possible and map your route, because some events happen only at certain times. Some villages have events on Friday Sept 20 as well.

To get you started, here are the listings for the six departments of PACA (Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur): Alpes-de-Haute-ProvenceAlpes-MaritimesBouches du Rhone, the Hautes-Alpes, the Var and the Vaucluse. And here's the Gard (which is not technically in Provence but never mind). For an amazing list of what you can see and do in Paris, click here.

And here's a list of local and regional Tourist Offices in Provence and on the Cote d'Azur, all of whom should have info on their own sites and events.

Vive le Patrimoine de France!

Photos: Get out there and explore! A few of the thousands of sites offering Patrimoine events include The Unterlinden Museum in Colmar (Alsace), The Confectionery Factory Roy René and Museum of Calisson outside Aix, the fantastical houses of Jacques-Emile Lecaron in Clamart, the Théâtre Antique d'Orange, La Cite Radieuse by Le Corbusier in Marseille, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on the Cap Ferrat, the Roman Amphitheatre in Arles, the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, the Jewish Cemetery in St. Remy, the Maison du Riz in the Camargue, the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh in Arles, the Heliport of Paris, The Château Raspail in Gigondas and the Palace of Versailles.  At the bottom, this year's poster.

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