A truly worthwhile freebie for lovers of history, renovation and architecture all over France, every September— and a similar thing to note in UK’s Oxford

Sophie Duncan
11 min readSep 4, 2022

All over France — Every September

Journées du Patrimoine

Don’t miss it!

When Renovating a dilapidated French castle, not everybody is kind. Mostly folk are benevolently amused, some bitterly believe that castles ought to belong to the state. In general a more dim view is taken of flashing money around in France than in the US and even the UK.

Perhaps the most sympathetic to our chateau fixing aspirations are other French people we met locally also having a go.

Some of them we met by chance but mostly we met them through an event very similar to Oxford Open Doors (in 2022 on the 10th and 11th September). In Oxford the doors of collections, libraries and hallowed places, usually closed to the public, are flung open, and other sites are made free to enter.

The same exists in France but on an epic scale across the whole country every September It’s called Journées du Patrimoine.

The website is a modest homespun looking thing but don’t be deceived. The listings and opportunities are phenomenal. A very special authentic opportunity to meet real life renovators, curators and experts.

Click here to find the Department you love or are curious about. https://www.journees-du-patrimoine.com/

Here are a few examples of sites participating in our department, the Aude this year.

Château Belflou is an example of another Château in Private hands like St Ferriol. It was given by Simon de Montfort to one of his Knights in the 13th century.

Like Chateau St Ferriol, Château Bouisse spent the 19th century and beyond being used as a rather grand barn. In 1951 French author René Nelli bought it, and like us, he and his wife spent decades purchasing the parcels which had been sold off and inherited willy nilly, to reunite the buildings and its plot. Today, apart from for Journées du Patrimoine, it is opened to the public for conferences and concerts.

Peyreperteuse is my personal favourite of the Cathar castles which the Aude is famous for. The slippy stone slabs and gnarled boxwood that you can grab on to to steady yourself discards…

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Sophie Duncan

I write about France, Oxford, dogs, love and more. Sign up for my newsletter today, find Beyond Paris - a Short Guide to Rural France on Amazon