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Louvre gallery hit by Chinese fake ticket scam

The world famous Louvre art gallery has fallen victim to a Chinese fake ticket scam after thousands of counterfeits were seized by Belgium customs officials. The fakes were described as "perfect clones of the real tickets" a museum source said.

Louvre gallery hit by Chinese fake ticket scam
The Louvre in Paris, victim of a fake ticket scam in China. Photo: Zoetnet/flickr

French police are investigating an apparent scam involving fake tickets for the Louvre museum in Paris after top-quality counterfeits were found in the hands of Chinese tourists, museum and judicial officials said Wednesday.

The probe was launched after agents found false tickets being used on several occasions last month by Chinese tourists and tour guides, a source at the Louvre – one of the world's largest and most-visited museums – told AFP.

At first the tickets were of poor quality, but then some seized on August 14 were found to be of "very good quality, perfect clones of our tickets", the source said.

The museum filed a criminal complaint on August 15.    

"We uncovered several more fake tickets in the following days, but we have not intercepted any since August 26," the source said. "We are being very watchful because these tickets are valid for a year."

A judicial official said police had questioned several tour guides in connection with the case but that no charges had been laid.

The source said that around the same time the tickets were discovered, Belgian customs officials alerted French authorities that they had seized about 3,600 counterfeit tickets for the Louvre hidden in a package sent from China.

The Louvre – home to the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and other famed artworks – is one of Paris's most-frequented sites, with about nine million visitors a year.

Standard tickets for the museum's permanent collection cost between 11.60 euros ($15.40) and 13.60 euros.

In April, the museum was forced to close for a day after workers staged a walkout to protest what staff said were increasingly aggressive gangs of pickpockets targeting the site.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro

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