Lens fans ask for Mona Lisa loan move

Lens fans have lent their support to a campaign to bring the Mona Lisa to the economically depressed northern town.

Supporters of the Ligue 2 side unveiled a huge banner showing their club's shirt bearing Leonardo da Vinci's world-renowned masterpiece on the front, ahead of Saturday's derby with Valenciennes.

The painting currently hangs in Paris' Louvre museum, but French president Emmanuel Macron, himself born in northern France, has been asked by Lens mayor Sylvain Robert to allow La Joconde (as the painting is known in French) to be loaned to Louvre's sister museum in Lens in a bid to boost the local economy and morale.

"Backed up by slogans like "La Joconde in Lens, it's clear" (N.B. it works better in French: La Joconde à Lens, c'est une évidence' and "Mona Lisa, the Artois hold out their arms to you" (N.B. likewise: Mona Lisa, l'Artois te tend les bras, no doubt the decibels of such a demand, so touching and so unifying, will not leave the tenant of the Elysee, who has the final word, unmoved," read a flamboyant mayoral press release that could have been penned by Da Vinci himself.

Asked for a comment, the Mona Lisa said nothing and just gave an enigmatic smile...