Saturday September 16 and Sunday September 17 mark the long-awaited return of the European Heritage Days. It’s the perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and visit the very private backstage areas of some of the world’s leading luxury institutions.
This 40th edition of the European Heritage Days, with its themes of “living heritage” and “sports heritage”, marks the first time the l’Oréal group has taken part in this annual cultural event. No fewer than four sites belonging to the world leader in beauty will be exceptionally open to the public, including the group’s world headquarters.
In another unprecedented visit, 19M – Chanel’s fashion manufacture – will open its doors to the public.
Other venues will offer a reminder of current events, from the studio of fashion photographer Franck Horvat, to whom the Jeu de Paume has dedicated an exhibition, to the Paris boutique of Bucherer, the luxury watch brand acquired by the Rolex group, via 30 Montaigne. In its gallery, the latter offers an exhaustive panorama of Dior creations, including the collections of Marc Bohan, who died aged 97 on September 6.
The editorial team has selected a dozen suggestions for unusual visits to exclusive places where you can come into contact with those who bring the world of luxury to life on a daily basis.
What’s new for the 40th edition
L’Oréal is a newcomer to the rich cultural program of the European Days.
The group, world leader in beauty products – present in the daily lives of French people for 114 years – is opening four emblematic sites on this occasion, underlining its territorial roots.
These include the Centre Eugène Schueller – named after the company’s founder – the Group’s world headquarters since 1978, in Clichy-la-Garenne (Hauts-de-Seine), designed by the architectural firm Wilmotte & Associés.
A guided tour of the building will enable visitors to discover the Group’s industrial history, its environmental and social commitments, and its latest technological innovations.
Alongside this flagship, visitors can also tour the Aulnay-sous-Bois factory, which specializes in luxury fragrances (see cover photo). Designed in 1992 by architects Denis Valode and Jean Pistre, the site is home to over 200 employees who manufacture the group’s perfumes, 90% of which are exported worldwide.
There’s also the Pavillon des Sources at the Centre Thermal La Roche-Posay in Vienne, the heart of the group’s spa history, and the Domaine de la Rose by Lancôme, a biodiversity treasure trove in Grasse, in the Alpes-Maritimes.
The latter, a veritable showcase of biodiversity in Provence (250 species of flora and fauna), offers 4 hectares of fields devoted to the organic cultivation of a dozen perfume plants, processed in the in-house distillery and preserved in a perfume organ.
The Rue Cambon fashion house opens its 19M for the first time, understanding the Manufacture mode de la Maison Chanel.
Inaugurated in 2019, the building is the work of Rudy Ricciotti, winner of the Grand Prix for architecture and designer of the MUCEM (Marseilles).
The building houses some 600 employees spread over 2,500 sq. m. and groups together all 11 Maisons métiers d’art, namely embroiderers, feather workers, weavers, boot makers and glove makers. It’s an opportunity to discover the holy of holies of Goossens, Lemarié, Lesage, Maison Michel and Massaro.
In addition to the teams, the building also houses the company’s extensive archives. Luxury swimwear manufacturer Eres – owned by the Chanel Group since 1996 – has also set up its headquarters here.
A 19M where the M evokes Métiers d’art, Mode, Main, Maison and Manufacture, while the 19 refers to both the arrondissement and the day Gabrielle Chanel was born (August 1883).
The restaurant, opposite the Madeleine church, inaugurated in 1839 under Napoleon III, is taking part in Heritage Days for the first time. Like the Tour d’Argent, it is one of the capital’s oldest gourmet restaurants.
Among the curiosities to be discovered is the historic dining room, richly decorated with listed woodwork by French cabinetmaker and decorator Majorelle, true masterpieces of the Art Nouveau movement. It took no less than four years to carve the precious woods of maple, sycamore and Ceylon lemon.
A guided tour is also available, as is a paid tea time prepared by the chef on Saturdays between 3 and 6 pm.
LVMH’s cognac house, spearheading its wines and spirits division, is offering a sensory immersive installation called MOBILIS this year.
Hennessy president Laurent Boillot invited designer couple Olivier Kuntzel and Florence Deygas to create an immersive work of art within the Hennessy tour circuit.
The result of two years’ work, with the exceptional contribution of over 50 different professions, the MOBILIS installation offers a creative and exhaustive portrait of the House’s heritage and know-how.
On site, visitors can look forward to a virtual reality tour featuring surround sound and realistic illustrations.
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A name that conjures up dreams – a contraction of God and gold – and evokes all the fashion euphoria of the post-war era. It’s also one of the most desirable brands in contemporary luxury.
It’s also a mythical location – 30 Montaigne, where founder Christian Dior set up his workshop – on the avenue of the same name, in Paris’s golden triangle.
The brand’s most beautiful flagship, the building is home to a new kind of boutique, combining exhibition space and restaurant facilities. Without doubt the most avant-garde vision of retail made by France.
For the European Heritage Days, we particularly recommend the museum and its sculptural work, a showcase encircling the central staircase and displaying no less than 452 dresses and 1422 accessories.
It’s an opportunity to explore the history of the House, as well as the creations of its successive artistic directors, and in particular those of Marc Bohan, Yves Saint Laurent’s successor at Dior, who died at 97 on September 6 in his residence in Burgundy.
He was the creator of the Miss Dior ready-to-wear line, which has since disappeared but is being revived here as part of a temporary exhibition.
Other exhibitions are currently on view. For example, visitors will be able to discover Dior Homme’s current Artistic Director Kim Jones’ intimate relationship with contemporary art, or to better understand how 18th-century baroque inspired founder Christian Dior, from fabrics to cuts to decorative elements such as trianon grey, the House’s signature color.
And for those with sea legs, visit the founder’s childhood home in Granville (Normandy) – which houses a museum – for an exhibition on the man behind Christian Dior.
While Bucherer made headlines when it was bought by Rolex, the European Heritage Days offer you the chance to understand for yourself the reason behind such a strategic choice.
When it opened in 2013, to mark the company’s 125th anniversary, the Parisian Bucherer “department store” – located at 12 rue des Capucines – was the largest retail space in Europe dedicated to the sale of luxury timepieces and jewelry.
And it certainly lived up to its reputation, so sublime are the decorations and products presented in majesty in this watchmaking palace.
The store is home to no fewer than 36 brands, including Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Jaeger Lecoultre, Vacheron Constantin, A.Lange & Söhne and Panerai. And Bucherer is proud to be one of the few official distributors of the Rolex brand, now its owner.
In July 2023, Bucherer Paris inaugurated a new Rolex space. The perfect opportunity to try out new models such as the Oyster Perpetual and the Cosmograph Daytona.
Frank Horvat photo studio
Photojournalist and fashion photographer Frank Horvat, who was born in 1928 and died in 2020, opens the doors of his studio in Boulogne-sur-Seine.
Welcomed by his daughter, the public will be able to discover the workplace of the man who, over half a century, left a considerable collection and was one of the pioneers of digital photography.
Horvat is a master of the black-and-white shot, known for having broken the codes of fashion photography with works such as Givenchy Hat B, Jardin des Modes, Paris, 1958, taken at the Longchamp racecourse.
For the second year running, the “king of jewelers and jeweler of kings” invites visitors to get up close and personal with the House’s craftsmen at the Cartier jewelry institute.
In an 18th-century mansion, visitors can take part in an immersive journey dedicated to the crafts of jewellery-making and the expertise of the Maison Cartier.
It’s an opportunity for the public to learn about the art of jewellery-making, while taking part in the design of a joint work of art.
The jeweler founded in 1858 and owned by the Kering Group opens the doors of its boutique-atelier at 26, place Vendôme in Paris.
Built in 1720 for Charles de Nocé, this private mansion is part of the real estate heritage of the famous Place Vendôme, whose contours were designed by Jules Hardouin Mansart. In 1893, Frédéric Boucheron was the first of the great contemporary jewelers to set up a boutique on Place Vendôme.
The building houses a production workshop, a design studio and a private apartment.
The latter is an exclusive space that can be fully privatized for the Maison’s top clients, with service provided by the teams at the Ritz, just a few meters away.
Kering and Balenciaga
The Laennec hospital, headquarters since 2016 of Kering – the world’s second-largest luxury group – and the House of Balenciaga, is just a stone’s throw from Le Bon Marché and a regular participant in the European Heritage Days. This is its eighth participation in this major cultural celebration.
Historically, the site was the former hospice des incurables, founded in 1637 as a meeting place for people condemned by illness or at the end of their lives. It retained its hospital function until 2000, when it underwent an extensive rehabilitation program.
As well as visiting the historic building and its listed chapel, built under Louis XIII, visitors will be able to see the new temporary exhibition on the “couturier of couturiers”, Cristobal Balenciaga (1895-1972).
This ephemeral exhibition, entitled “Figures de style”, showcases some thirty little-known dresses from the Maison’s archives, made for exceptional clients, crowned heads and celebrities alike. It’s also a way of highlighting the made-to-measure concept so dear to the Getaria-born Spanish couturier, who used to make his outfits directly on his customers’ bodies. An opportunity to find out more about this sensual bond.
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And to round off this 40th edition of the Journées du Patrimoine, we visit the Ateliers Berthier.
The name may not ring a bell, but it’s the Paris Opera’s costume workshop.
Listed as a Monument Historique since 1990, and built by Charles Garnier and Gustave Eiffel, the building was constructed to house the Paris Opera’s set and costume workshops.
During a 1h30 guided tour, you’ll be able to get up close to 60,000 items of costume and accessories, including exceptional pieces from every style and period, from the greatest performances on the stages of the Opéra Garnier and Opéra Bastille.
Featured photo: L’Oréal
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