Paris plans to give Eiffel Tower a face lift
Matthew Warren · 12 Oct 2011, 12:47
Published: 12 Oct 2011 16:31 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Oct 2011 12:47 GMT+02:00
The plans were announced by deputy mayor Anne Hidalgo who said the integrity of the 122-year old "iron lady" would be preserved.
"We must do something bold while also respecting our heritage," she said during a presentation of the designs which have been created by the Moatti-Rivière architects practice.
The first floor is the least visited of the 324-metre tower's three levels. Fewer than half the 7 million visitors each year choose to visit it, preferring the superior views on the two higher floors.
The designs envisage transparent constructions that will sit between the four pillars of the tower and will house a 300-seat conference hall for special events. The 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant which currently sits on the first floor will remain in place but will also be updated.
A dramatic glass walkway will cover part of the central void of the tower, giving visitors the impression of floating over the people below.
The work is only the third facelift for the tower which was constructed in 1889 as part of that year's Universal Exhibition.
It was not appreciated by all Parisians when it went up with many writing angry letters to newspapers. One, signed by well-known figures of the time including writer Alexandre Dumas and Paris Opera architect Charles Garnier, spoke of the "odious shadow of the odious column built up of riveted iron plates."
The tower was due to be torn down after 20 years but it was found to be useful for communication purposes so was left up.
The tower is now one of the capital's most-visited sites, although it is beaten in visitor numbers by the Notre Dame cathedral which attracts 13 million visitors a year.