Palace of Versailles evacuated after second bomb threat in four days

The Palace of Versailles was briefly evacuated for the second time in days after a bomb threat on Tuesday as France remains on high alert for a possible terror attack.

Hundreds of visitors were led out of the palace as a specialist police explosives unit was dispatched to the site. Hours later the palace, which has about 15,000 visitors a day, was reopened and a security cordon lifted.

On Saturday, the palace was cleared and closed after receiving a message suggesting there was a security risk. This came just hours after the Louvre Museum, which has 30,000 visitors daily, was evacuated after receiving a threatening message. Both warnings were found to be false alarms.

France has been on its highest security alert since the terrorist attacks on the Bataclan music venue and across the capital in November 2015 after a terror suspect stabbed to death a teacher, Dominique Bernard, and injured two others in the northern French town of Arras on Friday morning. The 20-year-old arrested at the scene was a former pupil.

On Tuesday morning, a 45-year-old Tunisian man suspected of killing two Swedish tourists in Brussels was shot dead by Belgian police.

Security fears have been raised across Europe since Hamas’s attack on Israel 10 days ago.

After the weekend’s alerts, France’s culture minister, Rima Abdul Malak, said: “Maximum security is in place; we will not give in to terror.

“There are wonderful exhibitions everywhere and it has always been France’s strength to maintain a cultural life. It’s a way of affirming our attachment to the values of the republic.”

The Museum of Jewish Art and History’s president, Dominique Schnapper, said in a message published on its website: “In the face of violence and hatred, more than ever the museum’s response will be to give nothing away in its mission to educate people about citizenship and the fight against antisemitism. With strengthened security measures, the museum will remain open and welcomes you.”

At the Institute of the Arab World in Paris, visitor numbers to an exhibition entitled What Palestine Brings to the World remained stable, said the institute’s president and former Socialist culture minister, Jack Lang. “More than ever, people want to understand the situation,” Lang told Le Monde.