When monuments reveal their mystery...

From the châteaux of the Loire Valley to the prestigious restored Parisian buildings and the great museums, every year French monuments welcome many history buffs and art lovers. However, these testimonies of the past still hold secrets and mysteries... Museum reserves, historical anecdotes and small details of the decor, castle nooks and crannies, transport of collections, humorous or controversial works, France.fr takes you behind the scenes of French heritage. Open your eyes and ears wide!

The Mazarin Gallery, a museum revealed at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris

Reopened in 2022 after several years of renovation, the National Library of France is a must-see for culture buffs visiting Paris, one of the few masterpieces of Baroque art in France. The Galerie Mazarin is crowded with people looking up to admire the recently restored paintings. A renovation campaign that has also revealed "modesty veils" to hide supposedly scandalous scenes... You be the judge!

Visit the French National Library (French website) (External link)

Treasures to discover in the reserves of the Mucem in Marseille, Provence

Who has never dreamed of going behind the scenes of a great museum? Head for Marseille, in Provence, and the Mucem, the first French museum dedicated to the civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean, with more than 350,000 objects, most of which are not visible to the general public. We sneak into the museum's reserves, a veritable Ali Baba's cave, to discover treasures, each more surprising than the last: carnival floats, a reconstruction of a devastated street in Damascus, pieces made of breadcrumbs, lard, or sugar... An unusual way of revealing the know-how required for the conservation of works of art and the installation of temporary exhibitions. Open Sesame!

Visit the Mucem in Marseille, Provence (External link)

Contemporary art in the spotlight at the Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection in Paris

Glass dome, circular architecture... While strolling through the Halles district, it is difficult to miss the former Bourse de Commerce, transformed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando into a reference museum of contemporary art housing works from the Pinault Collection. One of Paris' new must-see cultural sites that you can get to know better by going behind the scenes of the vast restoration project. Open your eyes and ears wide!

Visit the Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection (External link)

A mysterious portrait at the Royal Château of Blois in the Loire Valley

Do you think you know almost everything about the tumultuous history of France after a visit to the Château de Blois? Think again! A place of monarchic power during the Renaissance (7 kings and 10 queens of France lived there), the building holds many mysteries. Have you noticed the strange portrait in Catherine de Medici's room? It is Antonietta Gonsalvus, a little hairy girl whose story you can discover. You can visit the first floor of the Louis XII wing of the castle, which houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Blois and its many masterpieces. A new look at the castle of Blois!

Visit the Royal Castle of Blois, in the Loire Valley (External link)

A perfect setting at the Château de Chantilly in the Hauts-de-France

Gardens, stables, ancient paintings... Less than an hour from Paris, in the Hauts-de-France region, the Château de Chantilly, property of the Institut de France, is a jewel of French heritage imagined by Henri d'Orléans, son of the last French king, Louis-Philippe. A great collector of masterpieces to be discovered in the many rooms, flats, galleries and corners of the castle.
The visit that follows, which is unusual to say the least, takes us into two cabinets with exotic decorations: the small and large monkey room painted by Christophe Huet showing monkeys imitating the behaviour of 18th century aristocrats... An immersion into the daily life of the elites of the time and a way of approaching the place of humour in art at that time!

Visit the Château de Chantilly (External link)

In the intimacy of a palace at the Hôtel de la Marine in Paris

It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Paris, freshly renovated, owned by the Centre des monuments nationaux and looking like an 18th century palace. Between the Champs-Elysées and the Jardin des Tuileries, the Hôtel de la Marine, enthroned on the Place de la Concorde, is a jewel of the Age of Enlightenment with its ceremonial salons and steward's flats. But have you paid attention to all the nooks and crannies of the residence? The shutter pierced with an eyepiece by the Germans to keep an eye on the Rue de Rivoli, the mirror cabinet where the first intendant of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne received his conquests or the hiding place to spy on conversations in the diplomatic lounge... Catch up with this unusual tour of the monument.

Visit the Hôtel de la Marine (External link)