Paris museum strike spreads to Versailles, Louvre
A strike by Paris museum staff forced the Chateau de Versailles and the Louvre to shut down Thursday, a day after many other museums and tourist sites were closed.
PARIS - "We do not have the necessary staff to open the chateau," said a spokesman in Versailles, which draws thousands of visitors daily to the spectacular estate on the western edge of Paris.
Many of Paris's most popular museums and tourist sites including the Musee d'Orsay of impressionist art and the Arc de Triomphe war monument were closed Wednesday when staff went on strike.
Some of the rooms in the Louvre were open on Wednesday and admission was cut down to half-price, but the museum closed its doors to the public on Thursday as the strike threatened to drag on.
Called by all seven unions representing culture ministry employees, the open-ended strike is to protest government plans to drastically trim the civil service by replacing only half of all retiring civil servants.
Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand met with union leaders late Wednesday, but there was no breakthrough and Mitterrand said the planned job cuts would go ahead.
"This reform is being enacted by a government that was duly elected. This reform will be implemented," he told France 2 television.
The strike was called last week just as Paris was getting ready for a rush of visitors during the Christmas holiday season.
The Pompidou Centre of modern art has been shut since staff walked off the job on November 23.
In Paris, visitors also found themselves locked out of the Rodin museum and the Gustave Moreau museum, while some chateaux outside Paris were also shut down, including Azay-Le-Rideau in the Loire Valley.
France is the world's top tourism destination, drawing tens of millions of foreign visitors every year.AFP/Expatica