Two Russian tourists were turned away from the Château de Vincennes near Paris last month, following instructions to ban Russians from entering military installations.
The incident generated debate on social media about whether Russian travellers should be banned from visiting museums in France.
Some Twitter users argued it was fair given the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on citizens, while others described it as “scandalous discrimination”.
According to AFP, one of the tourists was a Russian female journalist who opposed the invasion. She claimed she was denied access to the castle “because she is Russian”.
The debate continues as EU foreign ministers meet in Prague to discuss a potential ban on Russian tourist visas.
The Château de Vincennes is one of Europe’s best-preserved monuments and the castle is for the most part open to the public. The site also houses part of the French armed forces’ historical archives, to which access is restricted.
In February – following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – France reinforced a strict rule that prevents any Russian citizen from entering military facilities.
The French Armed Forces Ministry confirmed to Euronews that the two Russian tourists were refused entry to the castle due to these new rules, and not a wider ban.
“It goes without saying that [the security policy] cannot be applied in the same way for strategic buildings as for places open to the public such as museums or cultural sites,” a spokesperson of the Armed Forces Ministry said.
The ministry says it has asked for the rule to be clarified to avoid future incidents like this. Château de Vincennes – and other tourist sites run by the army, including the Air and Space Museum outside of Paris – will also continue allowing Russian tourists in.