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What we know about the Louvre strike so far (and how long will it last?)

Thousands of tourists were left disappointed on Monday as reception and security employees at the Louvre in Paris went on strike, claiming the museum is "suffocating" due to overcrowding and is understaffed. Here's what we know about the walkout so far.

What we know about the Louvre strike so far (and how long will it last?)
The Louvre had a record 10.2 million visitors in 2018. File photo: AFP

What's going on?

The hugely popular Louvre in Paris did not open its doors on Monday after the museum's reception and security staff announced they were staging a walkout due to overcrowding and a decline in the number of staff.

CGT-Culture National Secretary Christian Galani said that workers had made the decision after a discussion of grievances during a training session on Monday morning.

Thousands of tourists queuing outside the world famous museum – which houses the Mona Lisa among many other works – were left disappointed.

In a statement the Sud Culture Solidaires union said: “The Louvre is suffocating” and that staff members have noticed a “deterioration in conditions for visitors and workers”. 

Why exactly are the unions and staff angry?

In 2018, more than 10.2 million people visited the Louvre.

“This represents an increase of 20 percent since 2009, but the palace has not grown,” said the union, adding that during this time the number of staff members has decreased.

The union claims that since 2009, visitor number have increased while staff numbers have dropped from 2,161 to 2,005.

The union said that staff members are “dismayed” by the “shameful image we give of our establishment”, adding that the overcrowded conditions are a danger to the public.

“But to date, no urgent, concrete measures nor any solutions have been brought to us,” said the statement, adding that the staff are forced to deal with visitors who are angry about the conditions of the Louvre 

“What to say about visiting conditions when people are confronted with noise, trampling, crowds, extreme fatigue and the total inadequacy of museum facilities when there is such a high volume of visitors? We refuse to continue to be insulted by the angry public!”

Since the beginning of the year, the union says, the museum has welcomed an average of 100,000 more visitors a month, putting the average number of visitors per day at 40,000.
“And this is just the beginning! We all know that the season is just starting.”
'Suffocating' Louvre closed as security staff go on strike due to overcrowdingPhoto: AFP
What are the unions demanding?
The union said on Monday that it wanted the Louvre to employ the right number of staff for the job, and a “rapid introduction” of a regulation that only allows a certain number of people into the building at any one time to meet security requirements. 
“And beyond this immediate necessity, the Louvre must be part of a deep reflection to redefine our mission. Get out of mass tourism, stop the establishment from turning into a cultural Disneyland, to offer a culture of quality for all, this is the challenge of these decisions!”
How long will it go on for?

The staff have decided to return to the job for the time being, after management proposed taking steps to improve the situation. 

Christian Galani told The Local that employees discussed management's proposals during a lively general meeting Wednesday morning, and ultimately decided to give them a try.
The measures included the implementation of a system of mandatory reservations, the hiring of an additional 30 staff members and spreading out the calendar of numerous construction and renovation projects, which employees say increase tension and crowding in the museum. 
What have the Louvre management said?
The management of the Louvre said that after Monday's closure and the late opening on Wednesday, opening hours are back to normal. However, the museum's Twitter account is strongly advising people to buy their tickets in advance online, saying that only pre-bought tickets will guarantee entrance to the museum.

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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