Louvre, the world's most visited museum, will soon open every day

The Louvre Pyramid in Paris. The Louvre, the Palace of Versailles and the Musee d'Orsay - France's top three most visited museums - will soon open seven days a week, the government said on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: AFP
The Louvre Pyramid in Paris. The Louvre, the Palace of Versailles and the Musee d'Orsay - France's top three most visited museums - will soon open seven days a week, the government said on Wednesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

Paris (Agence France-Presse) - The Louvre, the Palace of Versailles and the Musee d'Orsay - France's top three most visited museums - will soon open seven days a week, the government said on Wednesday.

The measure is expected to come into force between 2015 and 2017, ending a practice that currently sees those top tourist sites closed one day a week, on Monday or Tuesday.

Opening the three museums every day of the week "will allow better access for the public and better access to the works" housed there, said the culture ministry.

It added that it would hold consultations with unions about the change, and predicted that the "net economic effect would be positive", with ticket receipts outweighing the costs involved.

In London, top museums such as the National Gallery or the British Museum are open every day of the week. Similarly the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The Louvre, home to Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, is the world's most visited museum, with more than 9.2 million visitors per year.

The Palace of Versailles, to the southwest of Paris, attracts seven million visitors per year and the Musee d'Orsay 3.5 million.

French unions expressed reservations about the announcement. Christian Galani of the CGT union at the Louvre said: "The idea is to get the maximum amount of money possible and there is no thought about the visiting conditions."

"If we open seven days out of seven, we will only be able to open 60 per cent of the rooms whereas today, 85 per cent of the Louvre is open and the visitor density will rise just as quickly as before," he added.

The Louvre's management said there would be in-depth dialogue with unions "so that the measures are implemented in the interest of visitors and staff".

The CFDT union representing staff at the Palace of Versailles has already pointed to other practical difficulties.

"We will have to do cleaning work at night," the CFDT said in a statement. "That will cost more because they will have to pay night wages."

Film crews who pay to use Versailles as a backdrop on closed days might also face problems, it said.