European Heritage Days are cancelled in Guadeloupe and maintained in Martinique!

Trois-Rivières Ron factory in Sainte-Luce, Martinique - Photo: Comité Martiniquais du Tourisme

Launched in France in 1985, the Journées françaises de Portes ouvertes des Monuments historiques (French Open Days of Historic Monuments) became the European Heritage Days in 1999. The 37th edition will be held from September 19 to 20 September, 2020. The theme chosen this year is “Heritage and Education: Learning for Life”. However, because of the Covid-19 epidemic, some regions preferred to cancel this major annual celebration.

2 Église de Vieux-Habitants Guadeloupe
Church in Vieux-Habitants, Guadeloupe (17th – 18th centuries)

As we were preparing to publish the programme of the European Heritage Days, the press release from the Prefecture of Guadeloupe broke at 11:00 am this Tuesday: “In view of the deteriorating health situation due to the COVID-19 epidemic, and in accordance with the measures taken by the regional Prefect to fight the spread of the virus on the territory, the events organized as part of the European Heritage Days are cancelled”.

In Guadeloupe, despite the delicate health context, the great annual cultural meeting had been maintained by both private and public participants. The public was asked to wear a mask, to respect social distancing and all other health instructions.

The programme announced the opening in 22 towns (out of the 32 in the archipelago) of 44 sites including old houses, museums, libraries, forts, distilleries, town halls, etc. But other places to visit this weekend had also been listed on the French Ministry of Culture’s website. The discovery of 25 of these places was free. The capital, Basse-Terre, offered the largest number of sites to be discovered: 6. However, it should be noted that the visit to the Geothermal Power Plant in Bouillante, the Le Maud’huy House in Saint-François and the activities on Saint-Jean Street in Pointe-Noire had already been cancelled by the organizers.

12 Yole de Martinique
Traditional yole in Martinique

Heritage Weekends

In Martinique, where the European Heritage Days were maintained by the authorities, 86 events (and the number keeps growing) in 17 towns are planned with visits to several houses, a lighthouse, distilleries, a sugar factory, museums, the town of Saint-Pierre (former economic and cultural capital destroyed by the eruption of the volcano La Montagne Pelée in 1902), demonstrations of games from yesteryear, etc.

But given the exceptional health context, the island’s Cultural Affairs Department (DAC) had the excellent idea of organizing Heritage Weekends from July 18 to the European Heritage Days on September 18, 19 and 20 to “spread out” the cultural offer and the flow of visitors to the sites.

The full programme of the Heritage Weekends and European Heritage Days events is available on, a website created for the occasion and which presents several videos.

Like Guadeloupe, several cities, urban communities and departements in France also informed about the cancellation of the events planned as part of the 36th European Heritage Days due to the development of coronavirus on the territory.

Fans of this great annual meeting with the heritage treasures had this bad news with a twinge of regret and are looking forward to the 2021 edition. People in the regions where this major heritage festival will take place will have to respect all barrier gestures.