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Non to tourists: free Saturdays at the Louvre cater to locals

Officials at the Paris museum want to boost homegrown audiences and draw lower-income visitors

The Louvre courtesy Gael Varoquaux

Officials at the Louvre in Paris are granting free entry to the museum the first Saturday night of every month in a bid to attract more French people, especially less affluent visitors. A previous free-admission scheme introduced in 1996, implemented on six Sundays annually, has been abandoned. The first free night at the museum is due to launch 5 January; admission is usually €17.

“Studies have shown that the number of national visitors coming for the first time to the Louvre was down on free Sundays, but the number of foreign visitors increased considerably, particularly [via] certain tourist agencies taking advantage of this opportunity,” says a museum statement. The new event will “have an allocated time slot not available to tourists… but more suited to Franciliens [residents of the greater Paris, Ile de France region].”

The move is part of a plan to “democratise” the museum, say officials who also hope to draw more lower-income visitors. The inaugural event will include a board game area and reading corner for families. Jean-Luc Martinez, the director of the Louvre, says that "the free Saturday night [scheme] is a new, more convivial way, to discover the [museum]”.