As you have known, in the US there’s the White House in DC, here in France, in Paris, we have le Palais de l’Elysée, where French president Emmanuel Macron and his family currently reside. This palace is not accessible to public all year round, except for 2 days a year—Journées du patrimoine (European Heritage Days)! This year, it were 15-16/9 in France. These 2 days are quite a big deal across Europe and the world as there are hundreds of special events, spectacles, house openings, cinema, theatres, gardens, workshops, festivities, all sorts of things within EU countries (days vary), and their embassies in other countries also host many different events. There was literally a world map of events on their website.
At first, I was overwhelmed by the plenitude of offerings, and after several hours of research I was smart enough to find out the sites which were not open to public on a normal day.
So, without further ado, here is the experience and tips to visit le Palais de l’Elysée:
The day before my friend and I was kidding that we must wake up early and be there at 6am to avoid the long line. I was thinking to myself it wouldn’t be that bad (yes, very optimistic), and then on Saturday I had some other arrangements, so I did not check it out. On Sunday, thinking this was my last chance, during the afternoon, I passed by the place and noticed a long queue, long but not terrible. Thus, I walked all the way to the entrance and was met with 2 guards saying “We were closed.” The reason for the temporary closure is that there were 2 many people waiting in there that it would take 7 hours for all of them to proceed. It was 11am at the time and they officially closed at 6pm, so that reason made sense. “Quel dommage!”-I thought. “I should have known better.” I was just standing at the entrance for awhile, looking at people complaining to the guards how hard it was for them to get there, that the same thing happened to them yesterday, they came and were sashayed away, that the officers should have put on some kinds of signs to tell people that the building was closed, etc. There was no point, really, because I knew these people were just doing their jobs, following orders. However, there was this little girl who came and said that “I’m joining my family.” and the guards let her in. There was also another woman who told the guards she just went for a bread and joining her husband. Others people were still irritated. Observation noted, I parted my way for the museums nearby, the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais.
After I finished visiting the museums, I returned to l’Elysée Place’s entrance with a bit of a stressed/ hurried face telling the (of course in French) that my sister is waiting for me at the reception. He asked me again where she was waiting and I said the reception and that was how I got in l’Elysée, a bit of hustling! I did notice that French police have a soft spot for babies, small kids, and family in general. I guess it’s not just the police but it’s their city’s priorities. Anyway, the wait was deceptive as there were 3 security checkpoints that you will not see immediately. After the super long first wait in the sun outside, I thought I was in, just to be met with another one before I saw the gate, and another one before I saw the mansion, and just another one to enter the door of the palace for an interior tour! What a huge crowd! It was 3 hours before I could get inside! Later, I was talking to the same friend about how crazy the wait was and she told me how stunned she waited for 5 hours straight. So friends, hustle a lil bit!
And voilà! Flowers for you and me in the office of First Lady Brigitte Macron. (She is 65 y/o btw, talking about age difference …) To sum up, if they do not let you in, say that “I’m joining my family members at the reception!”