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France opens world's first Polar Lands museum

The world's first permanent museum of the world's polar lands is  opening in what might seem an unlikely place—the village of Premanon, in eastern France.

The new museum, which is shaped like an iceberg and is 60% underground, honors the  work of Paul-Emile Victor, the French explorer who was, in a way, to the world's Arctic and Antarctic what Jacque-Yves Cousteau was to the oceans. Over five decades, Victor logged over 300,000 miles over ice and snow, visiting and documenting life in the cold.

The location was chosen because Victor spent his early years there. The museum bears his name.

Visitors to the museum, was developed by Victor's son, walk into an intensely white world, with huge screens showing the ice caps, and with sounds of blizzards. The museum aims to show "the beauty of polar landscapes" and illustrate the consequences of climate change.

"The idea was to open a place that could serve as a support to teaching about the polar world, while approaching it in a playful way," said the museum's director Stephane Niveau. Victor's son died last December, before the opening.

The museum includes a documentation center for researchers, a skating rink and a conference hall. Local authorities hope to attract 50,000 to 70,000 visitors per year.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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