The 35th edition of European Heritage Days in France was a special time for 12 million citizens across the country who gathered to share their collective passion for heritage.
Marking the European Year of Cultural Heritage common theme “The Art of Sharing,” an astounding 24000 events took place at close to 16,000 heritage sites, 1,900 of which were open to the public for the first time. The outstanding list of activities demonstrating the rich and diverse cultural heritage of France included numerous exhibitions, guided tours, lectures, workshops, games, and free visits to some of the most significant cultural institutions.
The Minister of Culture greeted the visitors to the Palais-Royal, one of the most popular sites that hosted up to 10,000 people throughout the weekend. After opening the doors of her office to the public, she accompanied the President of the Republic to Villa Viardot in Bougival. Identified as one of the 18 endangered sites to receive support from the Heritage Lotto, the Villa was a symbolic setting for this event.
For the second year in a row, one of the most popular sites among visitors was the Élysée Palace. Around 20,000 visitors were in for a treat at the President's official residence with the President himself being the special guide for the occasion. Each visitor had the opportunity to explore the palace while listening to the audio guide recorded by Emmanuel Macron himself.
Mission for Heritage in Danger
Photo: Pavillon Viardot, Source: Wikipedia
Marking the beginning of the 35th European Heritage Days celebrations, a special, heritage edition of the lotto draw was organized on Friday, 14 September. As a part of the Mission Bern, the profit raised from 2.5 million participants was dedicated to the restoration of buildings labeled "heritage in danger". The mission was entrusted by the President of the Republic to Stéphane Bern.
During European Heritage Days, citizens were able to visit 10 of 18 remarkable heritage sites in need of restoration. The impressive Roman aqueduct of Gier in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, the 1304 Hôtel-Dieu of Castle-Thierry in Aisne, and Theatre des Bleus de Bar in Meuse are only some of the ‘emblematic’ sites that were offering free admissions on 15 and 16 September.
The Children of Heritage
The first edition of The Children of Heritage programme had its premiere as a part of Friday events. With nearly 23,000 students from 900 classes taking part, the joint project of the National Federation of Architecture, Urbanism and Environment Councils (CAUE) and the Ministry of Culture had a great turnout.
Moreover, the Ministry of Culture welcomed 230 high school students from Île-de-France and invited them to visit exhibitions and participate in workshops dedicated to unique archaeological, heritage, historical and ethnology practices. This year’s celebrations also inspired a special edition of children’s magazine “My everyday life.” The daily paper listed the most interesting programme guide for its most avid readers - the 10 to 14-year-olds.
(Re)Discovering Heritage through Family Games
Photo: Château de Pau seen from the banks of the Gave de Pau, Source: Wikipedia
The more adventurous and adrenaline-seeking heritage enthusiasts were having the best time at the heritage escape games offered at some of the most fascinating, mystery-inspired castles, museums, and warehouses across the country. Throughout the weekend, the mansion of Montmorin, the castle of Pau in Nouvelle-Aquitaine and the castle of Montmaur in the Hautes-Alpes were some of the hosts to thousands of fun and learning family experiences.
Following the trends from previous years, the 35th edition of European Heritage Days in France ended in a great success. Once again, the united efforts of authorities, organisations, groups, and individuals created an exceptional heritage experience for a large number of national and international guests. Thousands of historical, cultural and natural sites of France came to life in order to demonstrate the unique value of the common heritage and shared values.