France will allow U.S. film director Ron Howard to shoot scenes in the famed Louvre museum for a film adaptation of the worldwide bestseller The Da Vinci Code, the Culture Ministry said on Friday.

The movie version of Dan Brown's thriller will feature Tom Hanks as Professor Robert Langdon and is scheduled to start shooting in May, according to the Internet Movie Database.

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Asked about plans to shoot in the Louvre in summer, a spokesman for the Culture Ministry said: "Yes, it is scheduled to go ahead. There is no problem."

A production team has already visited the Louvre to select locations in its Grand Gallery, where the opening of the novel is set, according to the daily newspaper Le Parisien. Officials at the Louvre were not immediately available for comment.

Interest in The Da Vinci Code has spawned a side industry of specialized tours of Paris exploring the book's locations and the theories surrounding the work of Leonardo da Vinci, whose most famous painting -- the Mona Lisa -- hangs in the Louvre.

France wants to attract film crews to its monuments and museums to boost tourism and provide jobs for thousands of local showbusiness workers, who staged protests at the Cannes film festival last year over cuts to their welfare benefits.

The Louvre last allowed filming in its miles of galleries in 1999 for "Belphegor," a classic French mystery tale of a ghost who haunts the Louvre and steals precious artefacts.

Filming usually takes place at night and on Tuesdays, when the museum is closed to the public.

The Da Vinci Code, which the IMDb said is scheduled for release in 2006, is not the first movie directed by Howard with Hanks in the lead. The two U.S. stars also teamed up for the 1995 film hit "Apollo 13."