Tourists advised to ‘stay alert’ after top Paris attractions evacuated

France was placed on the highest possible level of security alert on Friday after a fatal knife attack at a school.


France is on high security alert with top Paris tourist attractions evacuated over the weekend due to fears of a potential attack.

On Saturday 14 October, visitors were evacuated from the Louvre Museum and Palace of Versailles – two of the world’s most visited tourist attractions – for security reasons.

Alarms rang out at the Louvre and its underground shopping centre at around midday when the evacuation was announced. It was cordoned off by police on all sides with visitors seen streaming out.

Officials said they received a written message warning that there was a “risk to the museum and its visitors”, according to AFP. The museum decided to evacuate and close for the day in order to carry out “essential checks”.

The Louvre Museum, which welcomes between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors a day, reopened on Sunday at its usual hours after no threat was found.

Just hours after the Louvre closed, the Palace of Versailles was also evacuated following a bomb threat. A source close to the matter told AFP that the alert came via an anonymous online message.

Videos of crowds leaving the top tourist attraction on Saturday afternoon were shared on social media.

Why is France on high security alert?

France was placed on its highest possible level of security alert on Friday 13 October after a fatal school stabbing.

A teacher was killed and two other people wounded by a former student with a record of Islamic radicalisation in a knife attack at a school in the northeastern town of Arras.

Amid additional concerns over the Israel-Hamas war, the government has raised the threat alert level and mobilised 7,000 troops to increase security across the country.

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) warns travellers that the threat level is described as ‘maximum vigilance and protection in the event of an imminent threat of a terrorist act or in the immediate aftermath of an attack’.

It advises people to “stay alert and follow the advice of local authorities” when visiting France.

Are tourists in Paris changing their plans?

Despite the increased level of alert, many visitors to the French capital remain undeterred.

“I’m not changing the plan. We’re going on as we are. We spent three days at Disneyland with the kids and now we’re here,” Spanish tourist Qing Qing Wang, told AFP.

“Tomorrow we’ll be spending the day in this whole area too. At the moment, I can see that everyone is calm. I don’t see anyone who’s very worried.”

Others are changing their plans following the evacuation of the Louvre and Palace of Versailles.

“I don’t feel scared. I feel as if I will change my itinerary just a little,” Australian tourist Lee Carter told the French news agency on Sunday.

“I won’t go to the museums this trip. I’ll just walk around the streets and I’ll be mindful.”

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