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EIFFEL TOWER

Eiffel Tower closes after riots at fan zone

The Eiffel Tower remained closed to the public on Monday a day after youths clashed with police in the area, lighting bonfires and throwing bottles.

Eiffel Tower closes after riots at fan zone
Photo: AFP

The Eiffel Tower was closed to the public on Monday after clashes between fans and police at the Parisian landmark during the Euro 2016 final, its operator said.

The Eiffel Tower management said the tower could “not be opened in the proper security conditions” after the clashes in which youths set alight rubbish bins, a car and a scooter before being dispersed by police with tear gas and water cannon.

On Sunday crowds of supporters, some donning French or Portuguese flags, gathered at the base of the Paris landmark before and after Portugal's stunning 1-0 victory over France after they were refused entry to the fan zone which was packed to its 90,000 capacity, Paris police said.

The base of the Eiffel Tower was engulfed in clouds of tear gas as riot police repelled the youths, who started fires on the pavement and threw bottles and other objects at the police lines, AFP photographers said. Police in riot gear faced off with crowds, as at least one police truck fired water at demonstrators.

The police, who had posted a message on Twitter and issued warnings in the Metro informing supporters the fan zone was full, used water cannon to extinguish the blazes.

The ground was littered with broken fencing and shattered glass as evening fell, with piles of rubbish burning and firefighters were later deployed to put out larger blazes on the streets of Paris, including at least one car that was set on fire.

Almost seven million people — around 20,000 a day — bought tickets to the Eiffel Tower in 2015, 80 percent of them coming from abroad to clamber up the skirts of the French capital's “Iron Lady”.

The figures make the Eiffel Tower one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world as well as a symbol of the city — a far cry from its origins as a temporary structure built for the 1889 Universal Exhibition.

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TOURISM

Eiffel Tower reopens from its longest closure since World War II

The Eiffel Tower reopened to visitors on Friday for the first time in nine months following its longest closure since World War II.

Eiffel Tower reopens from its longest closure since World War II
The Eiffel Tower reopens on Friday. Photo: Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP

The lifts of the Dame de fer (Iron Lady) are set to whir back into life, transporting tourists to its 300-metre summit, ending a long period of inactivity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Daily capacity is restricted to 13,000 people, however, about half of the normal level, in order to respect social distancing.

And from Wednesday next week, visitors will need to show either proof of vaccination or a negative test, in line with recent government-imposed requirements on the pass sanitaire (health passport).

READ ALSO How France’s expanded health passport will work this summer

“Obviously it’s an additional operational complication, but it’s manageable,” the head of the operating company, Jean-François Martins, told AFP.

After a final round of safety checks by staff, he announced that the “lady is ready”.

Early reservations for tickets during the summer holiday period underline how the tourism industry in Paris has changed due to travel restrictions.

Martins said there was an “almost total absence” of British ticket holders, while only 15 percent were Americans and very few are from Asia.

READ ALSO Eiffel Tower: 13 things you didn’t know about Paris’ ‘iron lady’

Half of visitors are expected to be French, while Italians and Spanish make up a higher proportion than usual.

The long closure has caused havoc with the finances of the operating company, Sete, which runs the monument on behalf of Paris city authorities.

It is set to seek additional government aid and a fresh €60-million cash injection to stay afloat, having seen its revenues fall by 75 percent to €25 million in 2020.

The masterpiece by architect Gustave Eiffel has also been hit by problems linked to its latest paint job, the 20th time it has been repainted since its construction in 1889.

Work was halted in February because of high levels of lead detected on the site, which poses a health risk to workers.

Tests are still underway and painting is set to resume only in the autumn, meaning a part of the facade is obscured by scaffolding and safety nets.

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