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LOUVRE

Louvre bids to pull in younger visitors by opening Saturday nights for free

The Louvre museum in Paris has announced it will open its doors for free one Saturday night a month to attract younger, less wealthy visitors.

Louvre bids to pull in younger visitors by opening Saturday nights for free
Photo: AFP

Home to the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, the world's most-visited museum previously opened for six free Sundays a year, but a statement published Wednesday said this was failing to bring in visitors from a broad spectrum of society.

The new nocturnal openings, set to begin on January 5, are to include activities such as a board game area and reading corner to attract families. 

The Louvre is also hoping to appeal to more people living in poorer Paris suburbs as well as to young adults and families with older children with the initiative.

The museum's statement said that the Saturday nights were a bid to underpin the “democratisation” of the Louvre, where a full-price ticket costs 17 euros ($19).

“The number of French visitors coming to the Louvre for the first time was dropping during these free Sundays, while the number of foreign visitors was going up considerably,” it added.

The main people benefiting were tourism operators who cashed in by ferrying foreigners through the Louvre — an obligatory stop in any case — for free on the Sundays.

“Working-class visits were not going up,” it said.

The monthly Saturday evening sessions will run between 6.00 pm and 8.45 pm.

The Louvre saw a sharp rise in visitors in 2017 to 8.1 million, making it the most visited art gallery in the world according to a ranking from the Themed Entertainment Association, an industry body.

Those figures mark a recovery since 2016, when visits to Paris dropped following a wave of deadly jihadist attacks in France the previous year.

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TOURISM

New guide to Paris museums – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Paris' museums and art galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

New guide to Paris museums - showing only the nudes
Find your way straight to the most erotic works in Paris galleries. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP

The online guides to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay museums are produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

The Classic Nudes series has been ruffling some feathers since it was posted online earlier in July, with the Uffizi museum in Florence threatening to sue. Bosses at the Louvre have said only that they are ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay has remained silent on the subject.

The guide for the Musée d’Orsay lists 11 erotic artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and a location for each piece within the museum.

The Sleep by Gustave Courbet. Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

Among the works featured are;

  • Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet (1863) – which features a group having a picnic in which the woman has lost her clothes (the men remain fully dressed in three-piece suits and ties).
  • Un combat des coqs by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1846) – a nude couple watching a cock fight (that’s cockerels fighting, just to be clear).
  • L’origine du monde by Gustave Courbet (1866) – more than 150 years after it was first painted, the intimate close-up of female genitalia is still making waves. In 2019 Facebook had to pay damages to a French teacher whose account was closed when he posted a picture of the famous artwork.

The guide for the Louvre includes:

Nude young Man by Hippolyte Flandrin. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
  • Portrait of Madeleine by Marie Guillemine Benoist (1800) – groundbreaking in several senses, this painting is one of the few on the list by a woman, and shows a topless black woman, painted just six years after the abolition of slavery in France’s colonies. 
  • Diane sortant du bain by François Boucher (1742) – one of many paintings on the list showing women having a bath, this features the Greek goddess Diana and her favourite nymph apparently surprised by the artist in the process of drying off after a bath. 
  • Le Jeune homme nu by Hippolyte Flandrin (1835) – most of the flesh shown in both the galleries is female (because that’s the patriarchy for you) but here we have a more rare male nude, a study of a young man sitting and looking rather sad and pensive.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

Both museums, however, form a great day out for all the family and contain a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present both are operating reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.

IN DETAIL: When do France’s top tourist sites reopen?

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