Thursday, December 03, 2009

Attention Art-Lovers: Paris Is Closed

The frequency of work stoppages in western European countries is amusing until – as a traveller who’s taken time off and paid a lot of money for airfare and lodging – your trip is ruined by a strike.

This is a favorite time of year for travellers who like to spend their time inside museums … iffy weather isn’t an issue. The lack of tourist crowds more than compensates for the drizzly days.

But this week, innumerable art-lovers are travelling to Paris only to discover that the Louvre, the Pompidou Center , the Musee d’Orsay, the Rodin Museum, Ste.-Chapelle, the Arc de Triomphe, and Versailles are all closed -- "en greve".

The strike is a result of a dispute between the unionized museum workers and the Ministry of Culture over cost-cutting measures. It started at the Pompidou last week and has now spread to dozens of large and small cultural sites in and around Paris.

Today MSNBC reports that the strike appears “to be gathering steam”. Called by all seven unions representing culture ministry employees, the open-ended work stoppage is to protest the government’s plan to drastically reduce the size of the civil service by replacing only half of employees who retire.

Workers at each museum are voting each day to determine the duration of the strike. The website of each museum will be your best source of information about their status.

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