McDonald’s fast food chain is set to open a restaurant and McCafe in the Louvre museum next month, causing great protest among the staff and Parisian community.
While there are already 1141 McDonald’s outlets across France, the authorities have not always granted permission to the fast food giant and in 1993 refused a new outlet under the Eiffel Tower. The Louvre’s McDonalds will be situated next to a new planned ticketing area in the underground shopping plaza, making it highly visible to the museums’s 8 million annual visitors.
Many museum staff are already unhappy that the Louvre is lending its name and works to a multimillion-dollar project in the Arabian emirate of Abu Dhabi, and are criticizing the proposal. ”This is the last straw,” said one art historian at the Louvre. ”This is the pinnacle of exhausting consumerism, deficient gastronomy and very unpleasant odors in the context of a museum.”
A similar protest was unleashed last year when the American coffee chain Starbucks opened a cafe close to the museum’s entrance. Employees and art lovers sent a protest petition to the managers. The cafe opened regardless but was asked to provide a cultural corner.
The opening of this outlet comes a time of great success for McDonalds in France, now the largest market outside the US. This is thanks in part to the government’s decision to tax McDonald’s as a take-away – even though most customers eat in – which means a levy of just 5.5 per cent instead of the nearly 20 per cent charged at restaurants. While business for brasseries and bistros is falling rapidly, McDonalds opened 30 outlets last year in France and welcomed 450 million customers.