The European Heritage Days: exceptional places unveiled

Museums, monuments, gardens, places of worship or remembrance—every year, European Heritage Days are not only the occasion to (re)discover the riches of European countries, but also to open doors usually closed to the public. Below is a small selection of the numerous places specially open for the occasion. Follow our guide!

UNESCO Headquarters in Paris

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One cannot speak about heritage without mentioning UNESCO. For the event, the permanent headquarters of the institution in Paris' 7th arrondissement unveils its architecture and its artworks to the public. It is a unique opportunity to discover "the three-pointed star," the nickname for the complex of buildings designed by three international architects, and to admire the works of Picasso, Giacometti, and Miro, which are exhibited inside. The intangible heritage is also in the culinary spotlight, with foodtrucks serving flavors inspired by UNESCO.

UNESCO Headquarters (External link)
Visit on registration on Sept 15 and 16 from 11am to 6pm.

Underground water reservoir of the Gallets in Rennes

It is about one of the most secret place in this Breton city—built in 1880, this underground water reservoir supplied drinkable water to Rennes' people. It has head-spinning proportions: a 6-meter (20-foot) deep cavity upheld by 196 pillars that offers a capacity of 20,000 m³ (700 ft³). Although it hasn't been in service for many years, there is still water inside in order to preserve the resevoir. Except on Sept 15 and 16, the reservoir is open to the numerous curious visitors.

Réservoir d’eau souterrain des Gallets (External link)
Visits on reservation

The wholesale market of Lyon-Corbas

For the 2018 edition, the city of Lyon decided to highlight its culinary heritage: the wholesale market of Lyon-Corbas being the best place to appreciate this city's rich flavors. The 35,000 m² (270,000 f²) expanse is located in the suburbs, with 300,000 tons of goods passing through the market, specializing in fruits and vegetables and supplying 2,000 clients across the region. The only condition to visit this behemoth is that one must wake up early: it opens at 5am!

Wholesale market of Lyon-Corbas (External link)
One hour and thirty minutes visits are available from Sept 17 to 21 at 8am. It's also possible to buy a mâchon (a Lyonnais sandwich stuffed with charcuterie) for 20€/person. Reservation at +33 (0)4 37 25 30 95 or at

Maison Chloé

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The Parisian fashion house will open the doors to its private mansion in the 8th arrondissement of Paris for the celebration. Visitors can dive into the collections of clothes, sketches, photos, and accesories with relish during a one hour guided tour.

Maison Chloé (External link)
Guided visits on reservation on September 15 and 16 from 10:30am to 7pm. Reservation at +33 (0)1 47 23 92 85.

Great Theatre of Bordeaux

On Sept 16, enjoy the free guided tour day and enter one of the emblems of the city, which perfectly reflects the golden age of the classic Bordeaux style. Built in the 18th century, the monument overhanging the Place de la Comédie at the heart of the city has evolved through the ages, thanks to numerous renovations. In the early nineties, the performance hall was totally renovated, redefining its original look without gildings and red color, fashionable in 19th century theatres. Ten years later, its spectacular façade was given a facelift with fascinating lighting highlighting its 12 Corithian columns with 12 statues.

The Osmothèque of Versailles

“Fougère Royale" ("Royal Fern"), “Le Fruit Défendu" (Forbidden Fruit) “Le Chypre” ("Cyprus")—do these sound like atypical scents? That's to be expected, since they've been out of the perfumery rotation for a long time. But, these 100 year old olfactory creations are still alive in the Osmothèque cellar, which hosts thousands of rare or otherwise disappeared fragrances. As a truly olfactory conservatory, the Osmothèque counts numerous famous or retired fragrances in order to archive them for the posterity. Usually closed to the public, the Osmothèque opens the doors of its showroom and allows the curious visitors to discover the "Trésor" fragrances of its collection. Not only that, but it offers the opportunity to experience the raw material of olfactory palette in the company of perfumers and “osmothécaires”, who pass on their esoteric knowledge.

The Osmothèque (External link)
Open on Saturday, Sept 15 from 10am to 7pm. Reservation suggested.

The Saint Nicolas Fort in Marseille

A key figure of the Old Port entry, proudly standing with its counterpart the Saint Jean Fort, the Saint Nicolas Fort has not always been well regarded by the Marseillais people. Built in 1660 by order of Louis XIV, this citadel had two purposes: to protect the city from the invaders, and to strenghten royal authority over its inhabitants. Partially destroyed during the French Revolution, and today home to the Bastille Day fireworks, the fort is currently under restoration meant to convert it into a professional reintegration site, led by the Acta Vista association. For the European Heritage Days, the association opens the fort to the public to share the the craftsmen's skills. On the days program are carpentry and stonework workshops, among many others.

The Saint Nicolas Fort (External link)
Open on Saturday, Sept 15 from 10am to 5pm