Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mona Lisa and Mickey D's

A great temple of culture will now glow with golden arches, thanks to McDonald's angling to hang its shingle a stone's throw from the Louvre. One of Paris's most refined and renowned art museums will end up oh-so-close to Big Macs and pomme frites , and--unsurprisingly--some people are not pleased about the prospect. While a combination of French culture and American convenience doesn't exactly sound like a bad thing, the press has heard a range of complaints about the new prospect of fast food + culture. The new McDonald's will be installed in the food court at the Carrousel du Louvre, which is an underground mall attached to the museum. The Louvre, the world's most visited museum, is one of the most successful in the world, supporters argue, and say that McDonald's isn't just incredibly famous in Paris, but is also viewed as a "French enterprise." If that isn't allowed to hold court by the Mona Lisa, than what is?

According to current reports, the Louvre is not allowed to vote on decisions such as this made by the private company which owns the adjoining mall area. Spokeswoman Aggy Lerolle commented that there can be no veto for the decision, and sites like louvrepourtous .fr have been complaining about the change, leaving commentary like "Rendezvous in December for a Mona Lisa Extra Value Menu." Even though the mall locations represent varied world cuisine, it's clear that the webmasters behind this site designated to help visitors maneuver the Louvre believe that the museum should have found some way to stop the McDonald's intrusion on the nearby collection of eateries. Previously, a group rallied against what has been called the "Disneylandization" of French culture, and they had mentioned Starbucks' interest in setting up shop close to other museums planning on opening worldwide. Interestingly, they had asked "When will McDonald's set up shop?"--which is disconcerting to read with McDonald's soon to be added to the Louvre's offerings.

Let's say that you'll be heading to France, with or without burgers available near the Louvre, and you're looking for a spot to stay that combines famed Parisian glamour with something even more arresting: a central location complete with stunning views to make any tourist (including a McDonald's naysayer) smile.

Hotel de Crillon: This recently-refurbished location is the pinnacle of European glamour, and happens to share its incomparable history with another impressive spot, the Placede la Concorde. With 147 rooms and suites, this stunning spot to stay is just what you need to soak up Paris' special vibe.

Hotel de Paris: Built in 1904, the Hotel de Paris is a cultural landmark in your touring city of choice. If you're a sucker for Art Nouveau in Neo-Gothic style, you'll be pleased to know that the Hotel de Paris retains its refined Art Nouveau interiors in both the guest rooms and the public spaces of the hotel. Pull out that camera!

Hotel du Louvre
: If you will be spending a lot of time at the Louvre, why not stay in an elegant hotel right next door? The Hotel du Louvre is perfect for art peepers as well as those interested in L'Opera Garner, Les Jardins du Palais-Royale, and the Comedie Francaise Theatre. Stop by La Brasserie du Louvre for fresh seafood and traditional French snacks--much nicer than a quick stop at the soon-to-be-opened McD's! You can also pop in for a nightcap at Le Defender bar.

Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris: This classic French hotel has been subtly updated since its opening last century, but it retained all of its elegant charm while getting modern trappings. French and international celebrities have designated this spot their stay of choice, and you'll feel like an a-lister as you explore its special perks and benefits both in your room and in the public hotel zones, from the spa to the contemporary bar.

Will you be looking forward to snagging a hot-n-juicy burger on your way from the Louvre, or will you abstain in search of true Parisian cuisine?

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