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Valley Public Radio Staff
Thu April 11, 2013
Mon Dieu! Louvre Shuts For A Day Over Pickpockets
Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 4:58 pm
If you tried to visit the Louvre on Wednesday, you'd have been disappointed.
In fact, even a visit to the museum's website got you this message:
"Due to exceptional circumstances, the Louvre museum is currently closed. We apologize for the inconvenience and will keep you informed when the museum opens again."
Those "exceptional circumstances" were a strike by more than 100 workers at the world's most-visited museum. The reason: increasingly aggressive pickpockets who target both visitors and staff.
"A union official said staff were afraid of organised gangs, which had become increasingly aggressive and included minors who could access the museum for free. Some complained of being spat at, insulted, threatened or kicked, saying thieves had become more violent.
"The Louvre, which had 10 million visitors last year, would normally draw 30,000 a day at this time of year to see works including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa."
Crowds of disappointed tourists gathered outside the museum.
"We've been cheated," Mariam Kamel, 16, a student from the International School in Bellevue, Wash., who was on a class trip to the museum, told The Associated Press.
Her teacher, Rhonda Eastman, said she'd instructed students on how to avoid being pickpocketed while in Paris.
"On the metro they no longer speak English, they don't stand together, they're snobs," she told the AP.
It's not the first time a strike has closed the doors to the museum, which is open every day, except Tuesdays, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and May Day. The Louvre was closed for a week in 2001 because of a strike over working hours; in 2009, workers protested plans not to replace retiring public workers.
The museum is scheduled to reopen Thursday.