Louvre staff are blocking tourists from entering, closing the museum as a part of the wave of French protests against government pension reform.
In March, the French government forced a bill through Parliament without a vote, raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old. The bill, which was already being protested, sparked a massive wave of strikes and protests in being pushed through without allowing the people a voice. The demonstrations, particularly those of Paris sanitation workers, have had widespread impact on the country.
Part of the aggravated response is due to the fact that, up until hours before a vote on the proposed pension reform, Macron’s government was promising not to use special powers to force the measure through. But literally minutes before voting on the bill was to begin, Macron reversed that decision and used Article 49.3 to dictate that the bill was law, without a vote.
In 2017, Macron’s inauguration was celebrated in the courtyard of the Louvre. Now demonstrators are shouting for his resignation in the same place.
Tourists, most of them from overseas, are expressing mixed feelings. Some are understanding of the protests, others think their vacations should be more important.
“We’re going to respect their strike tomorrow, but to do this today, it’s just heartbreaking,” said Karma Carden, a tourist from Fort Myers, Florida. “We knew that Versailles would not be open because of the protest, but we knew the Louvre was open.
“I understand why they’re upset, but (it’s bad) to do this to people from around the world who’ve traveled from around the world for this and paid thousands of dollars,” she added.
Tourism is important to Paris. An estimated 7.8 million people visit the Louvre annually, to see its half-million works of culture and art. That’s over 21,000 people per day. The staff serving those people deserved to have a voice in the shape their retirement will take, and giving them that voice is worth more than any glimpse of the Mona Lisa across a crowded room could possibly be.
Photo: Hadrian / Shutterstock