Celebrations International Travel Blog

McDonald’s in the Louvre?

Posted on: October 5, 2009

Today’s announcement that McDonald’s is opening in the Louvre Museum next month is very upsetting to me, although I can’t really say I’m surprised.

When I learned about the Louvre in high school history and French classes, there was never any mention of the modernization that now affects the Louvre.  That was because it was before I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid was ever constructed, and before fast-food giant McDonald’s decided to take up residence in the historical treasure.  We were taught to admire not only the museum’s collections, but also the history, architecture, and work of art that is the Louvre itself.

As an ardent traveler and a travel agent, I prize the historical significance and preservation of all sites such as the Louvre.  Just as I can understand that there was a need to better accommodate the Louvre’s thousands of visitors by excavating over the site of the pyramid, I can understand the need to provide more food service and amenities for visitors.  However, just as I will never understand the decision to build a modern glass pyramid in the middle of this ancient treasure of a site, I will never understand how or why McDonald’s is opening in the Louvre.

It’s been a long time since I lived in France, and even back then the French “destested” the idea of fast food, disdaining it as an American institution completely contrary to traditional French (and largely European) ideals of hearty foods, prepared with pride and respect for tradition.  When I say this, I’m not even speaking of the Haute Cuisine that France is so renowned for.  Instead, I’m speaking of everyday foods that bourgeois (upper middle to upper class) families enjoy at home.  I shudder to think how chefs in Haute Cuisine circles feel today.

In my personal experience, I remember trying hard to explain to French host families and others I came in contact with that fast food isn’t all that Americans eat, and that that portrayal on TV is erroneous.  The furthest I ever made it with that conversation was to have someone tell me “But there is no “American” food, it’s all imitations of European food!”

For Frenchmen to now hear that McDonald’s is about to become a fixture in their national museum, “Quel horreur!”  I can’t imagine what the museum leadership was thinking!

Here’s a look at what my idea of food is true cuisine, no matter where in the world your travels take you.

As a footnote of contrast, a bustling little restaurant I once visited just outside the Centre Georges Pompidou (the Museum of Modern Art in Paris) was much more befitting:  Au Pied de Cochon, “At the Pig’s Feet”, serving delectable French cuisine.  In my mind, that’s more like it!

What do you think of today’s news?  Post a message and let me know!

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49 Responses to "McDonald’s in the Louvre?"

The situation reminds me a little of the ill-fated starbucks that opened up in Beijing in the Forbidden City. It will be interesting to see what the reaction of the locals will be to the McDonalds.

Thanks for your comment. I agree with your comparison, however, I think it’s also fair to say we’re already seeing the reaction of the locals to the McDonald’s in the Louvre. By and large, the French can’t stand the idea.

Considering that the entire area in the bottom of the Louvre is essentially a retail mall I am no surprised by this.
McDonald’s in France is really delicious … especially their breakfasts that consist of croissants and other delicious things that are not “American”.

McDonald’s and other chains do tailor their offerings to suit the tastes of customers in each international location’s market. That’s why you tend to see more croissants, etc. for breakfast that we don’t typically see at locations in the U.S. However, I must point out that their standard fare like Chicken McNuggets does arrive at each location in frozen pouches, meaning that they are the exact same thing we get here.

My thought is that the controversy over the new McDonald’s outlets in the Louvre is not anti-American, but instead, anti-fast food because of the historical setting it’s being put into; a very odd pairing to say the least.

mmm… progress – wut?

Honestly, I don’t know if this is progress, modernism, whatever! 🙂

I am stunned, have no words. This is ridiculous!

Cheers! I raise my glass in a virtual toast to your comment. I couldn’t believe it when I first read it either.

All I can say is … sacré bleu!!

Hi Keith,

Thanks for your post. I know many people out there echo your sentiments! Oh la la!

I live in India, and in 2006, had been to Paris (Europe generally!) When there, I had also been to Musee du Louvre…my my, what a beautiful place! All the paintings, I was in awe…

Coming to the point, I really don’t like the fact that McDonald’s has chosen Louvre as a prime business location, I mean, this would only make more and more people to come to the Louvre, beacause of fast food! It would become like people on their way, drop in, have a bite and take off! Ridiculous!

Hi Sravan,

I can see your point, however, I have to disagree. Considering that there is a huge McDonald’s on the Champs-Elysees that would be much easier to access than having to enter the Louvre complex, I have a hard time thinking that people would actually go there just to eat at McDonald’s. And if they do, oh well, the way I see it, that’s just less people to crowd the halls of the beautiful museum for those of us who really want to see it!

Yes, I agree with you about the fact that there would be far less people in the halls of the museum…
haha

I don’t know if there would be less people, but I don’t see us having to weave our way through tons of McDonald’s fans crowding the museum!

OMG!! Mc’Ds in Louvre!!! I am upset of such news! it is AWFUL food!!!! ok, it is people’s own choice what to eat. but why to put this fast food to the world-famous museum???

I’m with you on this one. Like I said in my blog entry, I have no idea what they were thinking. The French cafe in the museum doesn’t have the greatest food in the world in my opinion, but when I’m on vacation in France, I’d much rather have an authentic French lunch. Even for those who might prefer McDonald’s, the fact is we don’t know yet if they’ll follow the typical French method of pricing, where they have two columns of prices: one for dine-in and one for take-out. If they do that, it wouldn’t take long for the grounds of the Louvre to be perpetually strewn with remnants of McDonald’s take-out!

Such a shame. France used to be the one country you could guarantee would resist the worst excesses of commercialism. For a long time French culture defined itself against American culture. Now it has decided that the golden arches are almost art in themselves. I am appalled. Incidentally, having seen the majestic front of the Louvre without the pyramid when I was younger, I cannot understand how I.M. Pei thought the structure could possibly be an improvement.
http://doctorbeatnik.wordpress.com/

Thank you for expressing my same sentiments about I.M. Pei’s structure so eloquently. And I agree with you; until now, I hadn’t thought too much about the commercial aspect of bringing McDonald’s into the Louvre (primarily because I still can’t comprehend why, even in desperation, the museum leadership would approve such a move.). How on earth the pyramid and now McDonald’s could be considered “improvements” to the museum is beyond me.

That’s nice and ironic.

Yes, it is. Is there a way to type a wry smile in text?

One day we will all work for McDonald’s and Ronald McDonald will be President. 😉

http://www.theprettyproject.com

Funny….thanks for making me laugh!

I think it’s horrible and I am very surprised that it would be allowed. We were at the Louvre in the spring for the first time and it was one of our favorite places in Paris. Somehow, this will take away from it next time.

I feel very much the same way you do, in that McDonald’s presence ultimately serves to detract from the grandeur and mystique of the museum. If you didn’t have the opportunity to do so last time, maybe on your next visit you could tour the adjacent Tuilleries Gardens. It’s a nice, peaceful atmosphere away from the glare of the McDonald’s arches.

I think this is like defacing public property… awful and horrendous. I don’t know who was possessed enough to concoct such an idea! It’s totally going to ruin appeal for the Louvre… And I haven’t even been there yet! What I don’t get is why they are going against French/European food traditions and going for fast food? Why not a family-run French cafe or something?

Hi Mikael,

Thanks for your post. I am in total agreement with you. About going against French traditions, that’s essentially what the controversy is about: bringing in an entity that is completely contrary to French/European ideals and the history and significance of the museum. They already have a French cafe in the museum that is perfectly fine, as far as I’m concerned. But like Steven Harris says in his comment, it’s all commercialism.

Since you haven’t been there yet, my advice is that as soon as you enter through that gawdy-looking pyramid, try your best to immerse yourself in the art, collections, and decor of the museum and palace. It’s not hard to do after a while. Don’t let the golden arches spoil it for you!

This may or may not be relevant but what about home made potato salad?? If my grandmother has been making an imitation for all these years i would very much like to try the “original” dish!

I’m all for “original” dishes! Bon Apetit!

wow that’s just sad. the louvre is a work of art and who wants mcdonald’s …. greasy oily fries and burgers …. in the home of the mona lisa? no one. hmmm the world is changing fast

McDonald’s wouldn’t be my choice for lunch when visiting the Louvre either, but in my mind the controversy is more about a clash of cultural ideals and elements than about food. With that being said, my idea of food when visiting France is an all-out culinary tour (hence my agency’s specialization in culinary travel).

Of all the places I imagined seeing the golden arches, I honestly cannot say that the Louvere was one of them. That is truly horrendous.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think you are in good company. I have yet to see a single positive comment about this whole thing.

This is a ridiculous notion…I visited the Louvre a few years ago, and remember finding the glass pyramids a bit whacky (and definitely in the way of all my pictures of the gorgeous Louvre facade). But at least there is an architectural value to the glass pyramids. McDonald’s, on the other hand, is the cultural equivalent of paint-by-numbers.

It’s a travesty, really.

I definitely agree that the glass pyramid at least has some artistic value, even if it’s jarring and completely inappropriate to the venue in which it was plunked. I’m only using the analogy of the pyramid to the current issue with the addition of McDonald’s because I see parallels in the controversy that both events have generated.

I bet French are really upset over that! French are known to be lovers of fine dining and fine art. McDonald’s restaurant at the Louvre museum??? HMMM!! what a terrible thing!

Yes, the French are definitely up in arms about this latest development. And I am all for the love of fine dining and fine art! Our custom culinary tours are a testament to that. 🙂

I do not like McDonalds. Now McDonalds is opening up in the Louvre. Talk about bad taste.

Oh wow. I’m speechless. No, I’m not. This is horrible. I cannot believe it. Wow. Why would you want to do that? It just doesn’t fit. Louvre – MacDonalds..? Am I missing something here …

As you can see from the comments our blog (and I’m sure others too) has received since yesterday afternoon, there are plenty of people who agree! Maybe what’s missing here is sheer logic. What do you think?

I think this is far worse than the Pyramid, which at least inspires discussion on an artistic level. No, the Louvre has sold out. If there is need for additional fast food (indeed there is already a fine cafe upstairs inside) then surely a home grown French/Parisian business would contribute the same rent income? They should have thrown out the Mcds application on principle? Surely?

You’d think they would have thrown out the idea of a McDonald’s on principle, but no, it looks to me like this is a done deal, unfortunately. I agree that they should have and will never understand (economics, commerce, and all taken into account) why the powers that be saw fit to compromise the institution of the Louvre in this manner.

I agree that it is quite a shame that McDonald’s is dominated yet another historical place in the world. When people travel, they tend to want to discover that country’s culture through food and how is one able to do that when the only choice available it one that can be found so many other places. To put it in an extreme sense, it seems to me that people will start thinking that McDonald’s is the norm everywhere and that is sad to think.

Hi Brooke,

Thanks for your post. Thankfully, McDonald’s won’t be the only choice for food service at the Louvre because they have a cafe inside that serves traditional French foods. I applaud your sense of adventure and discovery when it comes to food and culture. That’s what travel is all about….seeing the world, experiencing new and different things (or maybe familiar things in a new setting), and creating memories for yourself and your traveling companions.

Hopefully not everyone thinks McDonald’s is the norm everywhere, although sometimes it certainly seems that way!

With the sheer amount of fat americans I had to navigate around on my visit to the Louvre, it makes perfect commercial sense to open a Mcdonalds here.

I predict a drive-through version to be added to the Arc de Triomphe in the near future and a Mccafe in the middle of the pont-neuf within the year.

Thanks for your post. I don’t think anyone doubts the fact that it makes sense from a commercial/economic standpoint to open a McDonald’s in the Louvre. Whether it was a culturally appropriate move is another issue. About your predictions for the future of other sites around Paris, as strange and humorous as the ideas are, at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if you seriously were on the right track! 🙂

I think this is like defacing public property… awful and horrendous. I don’t know who was possessed enough to concoct such an idea! It’s totally going to ruin appeal for the Louvre…

Hi, thanks for posting. I, along with many others, share your sentiments. The more people I hear from, the more I’d really like to know what on earth the decision-makers at the Louvre were thinking!

Hi, thanks for posting. I, along with many others, share your sentiments. The more people I hear from, the more I’d really like to know what on earth the decision-makers at the Louvre were thinking!

Nice post, please do post more such posts.

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This is blog based on the experiences and interests of travel agency owners Adrienne and Agni Mitra. Through our blog entries, we will share our travel experience and expertise. We will also have other entries of interest to inspire your travels.

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