Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
Have you ever dreamed of seeing the Elysée Palace of Nicolas Sarkozy’s perspective, from inside? Or have you secretly wished to discover the Moulin Rouge – and it’s girls – backstage? Than the Heritage Days are made for you.
Tourists visiting the salle de fête of Elysée Palace - Photo: © AFP, Patrick Kovarik
Over the whole weekend (September 17-18) hundreds and hundreds of sites, museums and historical hotspots open their doors to the public.
Since the invention of the Journée du Patrimoines nearly three decades ago, the idea has spread all over the world and more than 40 countries and French regions hold Heritage Days now.
But frankly, is there a place that could beat Paris? I don’t think so. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding which place to visit. Hundreds and hundreds of opportunities are waiting for you; it’s impossible to make a complete list. But you’ll find one online here, in French, alas. You might want to buy today’s edition of Le Parisien or download the official and free application Patrimap.
Except the catacombs and the crypt under Notre-Dame, all sites and museums, all permanent and temporary exhibitions are free of charge over these two days. But I don’t recommend that you visit hot spots like the presidential residence, unless you’re prepared to spend the night in a tent in front of the gate because you really, really just have to see the desk of Petit Nicolas or the golden stucco of the Elysee. Read my lips. The line will be enormous and you’re better off visiting spots off the beaten track.
Like what? The Archives, for examples. The Parisian cemeteries, where guided tours will take place over the weekend. The sluice gate of canal Saint-Denis. Or les égouts de Paris, the Parisian sewerage system underground (entrance in front of number 39 Quai d’Orsay in the 7th arrondissement). The art-centre Centquatre is launching the season with
“Las noches des Buenos Aires”. Or why not pay a visit to l’INA, the National Audiovisual Institute, a treasure trove filled with recordings conserving the acoustic memory of France.
For anyone who wants to explore the city on foot or by bicycle, you should try out one of the 35 heritage trails the City of Paris has mapped out for the event. There also architecture trails focussing on the history of Paris’ buildings and the architectural heritage around fountains and townhouses, quiet back streets and world-famous squares.
Not enough options for you? Or too many? Well, than drown your indecision with a drink and join the famous Fête de l’Huma, a series of concerts organized every year by the communist daily L’Humanité in Parc George-Valbon at La Courneuve with Joan Baez, Avril Lavignes, Yannick Noah, The Ting Tings, Bernard Lavilliers, Nolwenn Leroy, No One is Innocent and many more. You get tickets online here – and for 25 Euros you’ll have it all!