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Louvre reopens after strike action, but only to people with pre-paid tickets

The Louvre in Paris opened later than normal on Wednesday as a meeting was held to decide on next steps after Monday's strike by reception and security staff saw the museum closed for the day.

Louvre reopens after strike action, but only to people with pre-paid tickets
Tourists queuing outside the Louvre on Wednesday. Photo: The Local

On Wednesday the Louvre's official Twitter account announced that the museum would be open later than usual due to a “general meeting attended by members of the Musée du Louvre’s reception and security staff”.

The museum finally opened at about 11am, but said that due to the crowds, only people with pre-booked time-slot tickets will be admitted on Wednesday.

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The meeting was to decide the next steps after reception and security staff went on strike on Monday, leading to the museum's closure, which left thousands of tourists disappointed.

“Staff will meet in a general meeting on Wednesday morning to decide what to do next depending on the responses we get from the museum and ministry management,” the Sud Culture Solidaires union told The Local on Monday.

According to CGT-Culture National Secretary Christian Galani, the workers had decided to walk out after a discussion of grievances during a training session on Monday morning.
 
On Wednesday he told the Local: “The management suggested a series of measures to the employees yesterday, which they discussed during a lively general meeting this morning.”
 
He added that the employees ultimately decided to try out the measures, which 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. 
 
But while museum employees discussed museum's proposals, the tourists who were queuing outside said there had been no information on when the museum would open.
 
 

One family visiting from the US said they had been waiting for over three hours, and had also tried to visit on Monday.

Rohan Mekala, from Edison, New Jersey, said: “We were here all Monday morning, from about 8:30-11:30. Nobody told us what was going on, they just kept telling us to wait longer and longer.

“My mom has been sitting down because she can’t stand in line for too long. She had her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) operated on, so she can’t stand in line for hours like us.”
 
His sister Revathi Mekala said: “They’re not telling anybody anything. They just want the lines to get longer and longer so they can use us as leverage.
 
“We bought two-day museum passes at €48 a pop to get out of waiting in line. If we can’t use it today, it will be a waste of money as we fly back tonight.”
 
Their father Nara added: “They should give notification. Like this, the public is punished.”


The Mekala family from New Jersey waiting outside the Louvre. Photo: The Local

The reason for the strike was the “suffocating” conditions which staff say is caused by overcrowding, with the number of tourists jumping by 20 percent since 2009, as well as a shortage of staff. Click here to read more about their grievances.

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

On Wednesday, the Louvre also advised visitors to reserve their ticket online due to the fact that “high visitor numbers are expected over the coming days.”

The Louvre is normally open from 9am – 9.45pm on Wednesdays.

 

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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