Enjoy European Heritage Days in five French towns

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Enjoy European Heritage Days in five French towns

On the weekend of 21 and 22 September, take part in the 36th European Heritage Days. In Rouen, Vincennes, Sarlat, Arles and Saint-Paul, you can experience the event in quite a different way.

Enjoy European Heritage Days in five French towns

Medieval times in Vincennes

Every year, European Heritage Days are a resounding success in France. Over 30 years since they were introduced, you may be looking to experience the event off of the beaten track in 2019. Not far from the country's metropolises and other big cities, town councils are expanding their initiatives to come up with a weekend full of excitement and entertainment to thrill young and old alike. Head off to these quirky destinations, easily accessible from Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux and Saint-Denis.

If medieval history is your thing, you need to be in Vincennes on this year's European Heritage Days! In this historic town just a few metro stops from Paris, you can relive the days of knights of olden times. On the esplanade in front of the town hall, you can wander with your family around a market from the Middle Ages, which is uncannily authentic and takes place on Saturday 21 September. Fall under the magical spell of musicians, acrobats and storytellers. Awaken your inner child as you watch jugglers perform, birds of prey take flight and knights enter into battle. Take part in workshops on illumination, calligraphy and spinning with spindle and wheel run by master craftsmen and women, which you can sign up for when you get there. Do a bit of shopping – there are stalls selling leather goods, jewellery, children's toys, crystals and painted objects. While your little ones are enjoying a pony ride, you sample tastes from days gone by: feast on cheese pies, rissoles (the forerunner of ravioli) or delicious almond-flavoured marzipan (massepains) tarts.

It will then take you about ten minutes to walk to the Château de Vincennes, the ancient home of the kings of France. All weekend, at the foot of the dungeon, expert fencers from the Vincennes club will impress you with swashbuckling duels. In the King's Pavilion, join in the heritage workshops and set sail on a sensory journey to the Americas.

Town hall (Hôtel de Ville)
53 bis rue de Fontenay
94300 Vincennes
France
+33 (0)1 43 98 65 00
tourisme-valdemarne.com/journee-du-patrimoine/hotel-de-ville-de-vincennes/

Château de Vincennes
Avenue de Paris
94300 Vincennes
France
+33 (0)1 43 28 15 48
www.chateau-de-vincennes.fr/en/

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Enjoy European Heritage Days in five French towns

The ancient world recreated in Arles

Located an hour's drive from Marseille, this Provençal town reveals its millennia-old monuments from the angle of arts and entertainment, the theme of this year's Heritage Days. Go to its famous Roman theatre and watch amusing playlets acted out with song and dance. These re-enact ludi scaenici, theatrical performances which passed from Ancient Greece to the Roman Empire.

Next up is the amphitheatre where you enter the fascinating world of the gladiators. At the ludus, a school for warriors, your children meet these epic heroes and learn the basic skills of combat. Brace yourself as they step into the arena to do battle! Your next destination is the Baths of Constantine, an area dedicated long ago, not only to looking after the body but to entertainment as well. There, the Martingale non-profit association recreates games inspired by Rome and the ancient world. Step into the shoes of Arles' forefathers who loved to debate, eat, drink, read and generally have a good time there.

Roman Theatre of Arles
8 rue du Cloître
13200 Arles
France
+33 (0)4 90 18 41 20
www.patrimoine.ville-arles.fr/theatreantique

Amphitheatre of Arles (Arena)
1 rond-point des Arènes
13200 Arles
France
+33 (0)8 91 70 03 70
arenes-arles.com/

Baths of Constantine
Rue du Grand Prieuré
13200 Arles
France
+33 (0)4 90 52 02 06
www.patrimoine.ville-arles.fr/thermesconstantin

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Enjoy European Heritage Days in five French towns

Sarlat by candlelight

The evening of Saturday 21 September promises to be magical in the capital of the Périgord Noir region, some 200 kilometres from Bordeaux. Imagine the cobbled alleys of this architectural gem lit by over 2,000 candles. With stars in your eyes, wander from half-timbered medieval houses to Renaissance mansions. This dreamlike trail takes you to the Maison de La Boétie, where you watch a video performance by calligrapher Alyssia Banon. Discover board games from centuries past in the sumptuous reading room at the town library. Then, give in to the magic of a show fusing dance and graphic arts in the Jardin des Enfeus, the forgotten cemetery at Sarlat Abbey. The atmosphere is highly charged in Place Boissarie, where a musical duo launches into waltzes, polkas and lively mazurka folk dances. Join in and have fun as young and old alike dance the night away together.

Maison de La Boétie
3 rue de La Boétie
24200 Sarlat-la-Canéda
France

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Enjoy European Heritage Days in five French towns

Creole culture in Saint-Paul

To mark the Heritage Days, French culture showcases its creole diversity in full on the island of La Réunion. From 21 to 22 September, an original artistic agenda awaits in the pretty town of Saint-Paul on the west coast. At the Sudel Fuma Cultural Centre, you can visit an exhibition on the Maroons and how these slaves freed themselves and escaped from the plantations. You can then join a discussion on the same theme with actors from the TéatKabary company in a workshop on oral expression and movement. Nearby, Villa Rivière invites you to take a guided tour of its interior, typical of the era of the French East India Company. Dazzled by its beautiful decor, you sign up for a ceramics workshop run by the talented Alice Aucuit, winner of the Villa Rivière Prize, recognising artists whose work is directly related to the heritage of La Réunion.

And the surprises do not end there. In the gardens of the town hall, an illustrator has created a drawing representing the savannah on a large moveable structure. You can add your own contribution to the work by trying your hand at writing a poem. Your jottings will be included in the fresco during these Heritage Days. If you are visiting on Saturday 21st, then head to the Entrepôt Kerveguen in Saint-Pierre, in the south of the island, for the evening. Let yourself be carried away by the imaginative “Baleine et contrebasse” (Whale and double bass) and then “Des rêves dans le sable” (Dreams in the sand), two amazing shows with fascinating settings.

Sudel Fuma Cultural Centre
1 rue Marius et Ary Leblond
97460 Saint-Paul
La Réunion
+ 262 45 76 41
www.journees-du-patrimoine.com/SITE/espace-culturel-sudel-fuma

Villa Rivière
34 rue du Commerce
97460 Saint-Paul
La Réunion
+ 262 59 20 18
www.villariviere.com/

Entrepôt Kerveguen
Rue Gabriel Dejean
97410 Saint-Pierre
La Réunion
+ 262 96 29 10

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Enjoy European Heritage Days in five French towns

Creative arts in Rouen

From Paris, head to the capital of Normandy which is throwing itself wholeheartedly into the joyful theme of arts and entertainment… so prepared to be dazzled. You will meet a tour guide who will teach you all about the history of magic as you wander through the streets of the town. Street performers, magicians and acrobats pop up to entertain you on this fascinating stroll.

Rouen also reveals some quirky places dedicated to the performing arts. At the Hangar, the former Saint-Sever railway station, your emotions will be put to the test as you watch a show inspired by the 2015 terrorist attacks, staged by the Presque Compagnie and taking place at 5, 7 and 9 o'clock on the evening of Saturday 21 September. The Elbeuf circus and theatre company, one of the last permanent, non-travelling circuses in France, will unveil all its secrets, from the circus ring to the balconies, and even a peep backstage.

For some years now, the town of Joan of Arc pays tribute to women through its ‘Women's Heritage Days'. At the Cité des Métiers de Normandie, you can discover the skills of talented craftswomen (leatherwork, wood gilding, gold and silversmiths, etc.). You are then summonsed to the courthouse! In one of the courtrooms, the Compagnie du P'tit Ballon will enthral you with its show starring six historical figures from the feminist movement.

Former Saint-Sever railway station
Avenue de Bretagne
76100 Rouen
France
www.lapresquecompagnie.com/cequenousdansons

Cirque-théâtre d'Elbeuf
2 rue Augustin Henry
76500 Elbeuf
France
+33 (0)2 32 13 10 50
www.cirquetheatre-elbeuf.com/english.html

Cité des Métiers de Normandie
115 boulevard de l'Europe
76100 Rouen
France
+33 (0)2 32 18 82 80
www.citedesmetiersnormandie.fr/

Palais de Justice (courthouse)
6 rue aux Juifs
76100 Rouen
France