First launched in 1984 by the French Ministry of Culture, the third Sunday in September is the designated day for historical monuments, museums and even private areas across the country to open their doors and allow the public access to places they would not normally be able to experience.
By the year 2000 the event had become so popular that it was a weekend-long event throughout France. The 34th edition of the annual event, Journees du Patrimoine, is due to place this weekend (16th & 17th September).
This is an amazing opportunity for members of the public to not only perhaps re-new their interest or re-visit certain places, but it offers the unique chance for people to enter buildings and areas that are more often than not out of bounds to the public. For example seeing inside châteaux or private residences in some of the most famous and stunning parts of France, or being able to visit the building where Regional archives are housed, and the chance to maybe see the hidden artworks and collections of some of the most famous galleries and museums. Whatever your area of interest there is a Journees du Patrimoine event that will excite and entice you in...
Entry to the various buildings, monuments and sites that are state-run are usually free, however, private or public institutions can charge an entry fee, although this will often be discounted due to the nature of the event.
Check out the official website and zoom-in map to find the events and places open near you.