Workmen prepare the site of the Le Louvre Lens Museum, by Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, on the eve of the inauguration of the museum in Lens, northern France, December 3, 2012. MANDATORY CREDIT Architects Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa SANAA REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
LENS, France (AP) - It's an impoverished coal-mining town in northern France that was razed by two world wars and now faces soaring unemployment.
Lens is an unlikely site for the bastion of French culture, the Louvre, to create a €150 million extension, but it's opening this week.
"Lens is a territory that's suffered from every crisis, from every war," says Henri Loyrette, director of the Louvre. He says he hopes the museum will restimulate the region.
But for some locals, the palatial museum's gesture to bring its Leonardo Da Vincis to a city with 24-percent unemployment sounds like Marie Antoinette's words for the starving masses: "Let them eat cake."
"Why do we need a museum and culture here? We need money and jobs," says 26-year-old Amandine Grossemy.