Expo Ramses II in Paris: 145,000 tickets sold before the opening

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Say Egypt-pharaons-gold and you have the key to an undeniable passion for ancient Egypt. The “Ramses and the Gold of the Pharaohs” exhibition opens on April 7 and will break attendance records. As the Ramses of the Ten Commandments would say: let it be written and fulfilled!

Although less impressive than the previous Tutankhamun exhibition which took place in the same place in the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris, this one immerses us in the universe of Ramses II (Ramses the Great) born in 1305 BC, a monument in itself: husband – among others – of Nefertari, father of fifty sons and sixty daughters… .

A great builder (Louxor, Abidos, Abu Simbel), a great warrior, he was also the one who ensured the peace of his country the longest in 62 years of reign. Like Louis XIV, like Elizabeth of England, entire generations have known only this monarch. Suffice to say that when he died at the age of 92, his 175 m long tomb, the largest in the Valley of the Kings, was already largely supplied with rare and precious objects to accompany him in the afterlife.

The exhibition, which will last until September 6, will allow visitors to admire some 181 objects linked to his reign and above all, an exclusively French privilege: the sarcophagus of Ramses released for the first time from Egypt. A tribute to the exceptional Franco-Egyptian cultural relationship. We remember the decisive contribution of Champollion’s work to understanding ancient Egypt. We remember less that in 1976, the mummy of the monarch had been transported to France to be examined and treated to be saved from fungi which gnawed at it.

Mr. Amhed Issa, Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities (^photo ED=

The Minister of the Department of Antiquities of Egypt, Mr. Mustafa Waziri confided to the journalists present for the preview of the opening that 250 international missions from 25 countries work permanently on Egyptian soil and 54 of them are French. .

The essential Zahi Hawass, Egyptologist, archaeologist and Egyptian academic, for a time sidelined by the Egyptian revolution, has returned to grace and keeps the upper hand over Egyptian archaeology. Passionate if ever there was one, he said he had “the very strong feeling that by September we will find Nefertiti’s tomb”.

Taking advantage of the audience of journalists present, with his inimitable verve, he made himself the spokesperson for three decisions which he calls for: that we can remove the statue of Champollion which is in front of the Collège de France and which sees Champollion put his foot on the head of Ramses II “an insult for the Egyptians for whom Champollion remains a hero”; that the bust of Nefertiti held in Berlin, the Rosetta Stone held in London and the Zodiac of Dendera held in the Louvre in Paris can be returned to Egypt. We will no doubt have to speak to the new Director General of UNESCO, Mr. El-Anany, who will take office in 2025. He was just appointed yesterday.


An opening delayed year after year but which should, confides to me Mr. Ahmed Issa, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, be able to open “between November 2023 and March 2024”. On the tourism side, Mr. Minister, where are the French visitors? “Good question, I am very proud to be able to tell you that we already have more than 100,000 French people having visited Egypt in the first three months of 2023. This is the highest number since 2011 and it is growing. We hope for this year to receive some 420,000 French people. In total we expect around 15 million tourists in total”

As you will have understood, Egypt is a French passion. Two days before the opening 145,000 tickets have already been sold. If in 1967, with 1.4 million visitors, Tutankhamun had been dubbed the exhibition of the century, it should beat this record, especially since France is the only European country hosting the exhibition which will then go to Australia. Many workshops are also planned for children and 50,000 schoolchildren between 10 and 12 years old will be able to benefit from a €5 price.

For the rest, the entrance prices are from €24 and €20 per child except children under 4 for whom it is free (€15 more for the interactive part: you can take a virtual tour of the temple of ‘Abou Simbel, virtually accompanied by a plump Nefertari ma-faith… who through the colonnades and rooms will tell you about the greatness of her royal husband Ramses). Not given all that but, according to Mr. Zawi Hawass, the proceeds will be used partially to finance the restoration of the damaged tomb of the famous mummified monarch


For fun, the inevitable kitsch memories also survive the vagaries of time as evidenced by these few illustrations:

Catherine Mills Avatar