Atout France held a luncheon this week in New York to celebrate new developments in the Pas-de-Calais region in the country’s north.
Diana Hounslow, director of the Pas-de-Calais Tourism Board, noted that before the London Olympics kick off next month, 27 nations will hold pre-competition training in the Department (including field hockey and wrestling). The area's proximity to England helps: It's 54 minutes from London on the Eurostar, and 90 minutes from Dover on the ferry.
The country has invested more than 120 million euros in renovations and new developments in recent years. Among these new developments is a temporary exhibit of antique carriages and coaches from Versailles that will be on display in the Arras Museum of Fine Arts through November 2013. This will be the first exhibition in France devoted to coaches, sleds and sedan chairs, with paintings and sculptures also on display.
But perhaps the biggest news is the upcoming opening of the Louvre-Lens museum. Xavier Dectot, director of the museum, offered a quick preview of the space, which is due to open in December as the first (and probably only) extension of the iconic Paris venue.
The main center of the building will be transparent, Dectot said, with two wings on either side. Notably, the museum’s storeroom will be visible and accessible, so even works of art not currently on display will be available to those who would like to see them. The Time Gallery will have 205 pieces that cover 5,000 years of human history, from Etruscan artifacts to paintings from the 19th century—a must-see for art fans and history buffs alike.
Lens was chosen as the site for the new museum for several reasons, Dectot said. The former mining community is easily accessible from numerous cities—it’s less than two hours from Paris by car, and the trip is even quicker by train. International cities like London and Brussels are also just a fast train ride away, making Lens an easy day trip.
Another reason for the museum’s location, Hounslow said, was economic: Lens had 15 percent unemployment, but the new museum and the attendant development will help generate new jobs and growth. Bringing art and culture to Lens would also give the people of northern France a chance to see top-notch exhibits, and can foster education and appreciation for the museum experience in a new generation.