Parts of Paris’ Pompidou Centre closed for year-long restoration works

Art and architecture fans hoping to experience the glass-enclosed escalators hugging the facade of the Pompidou Centre in Paris will have to wait until next year, as extensive renovation work is carried out on the groundbreaking four-decade-old structure.

Parts of Paris' Pompidou Centre closed for year-long restoration works
The famous 'inside out' architecture of the Pompidou Centre. Photo: AFP

The museum said on Tuesday that the “caterpillar” escalator as well as the sloping stone plaza in front of the iconic structure are closed to the public for work expected to last until September 2020.

As a result, the centre's three million annual visitors will have to use an entrance around back, usually reserved for the vast public library that forms part of the inside-out complex.


While a hit with visitors, the escalator can get unbearably hot under the summer sun, whose rays have taken their toll on the corridors since the Pompidou opened in 1977.

The glass panels in particular, which offer pristine views of the heart of Paris, will be replaced to offer better insulation.

The main entry underneath will also be enlarged and equipped with revolving doors, the museum said.

Designed by star architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the building's radical design pushes almost all its structural and mechanical elements to the exterior, freeing up vast exhibition spaces.

On full display outside is a maze of blue air-conditioning conduits, green water pipes, yellow electrical casings and red elevators.

The escalator closures come as the Pompidou is preparing for one of this year's major shows in Paris, a retrospective devoted to Francis Bacon.

Because of the expected crowds, tickets will be available only by reservation – a system recently implemented by the Louvre as well to cope with a huge influx of visitors.


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Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed

Striking airport workers have blocked part Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, with some flights already delayed by at least one hour.

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed
Striking airport workers outside Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt | AFP

Last month, trade unions representing workers at the Aéroports de Paris (ADP) – the city’s Charles-de-Gaulle-Roissy and Orly airports – called for a strike between July 1st and July 5th in an ongoing dispute between French airport workers and bosses over contract renegotiations.

A second wave of protests are expected next week, after a strike notice was filed for July 9th.

Tensions mounted on Friday morning as some 400 protesters staged a raucous demonstration at CDG’s terminal 2E, which mostly deals with flights outside the Schengen zone, as police officers looked on.

At Orly airport, meanwhile, some 250 people demonstrated “outside”, while a small group was inside.

The dispute is over a long-term plan by ADP to bring in new work contracts for employees at the airports, which unions say will lower pay, job losses and a reduction in rights and bonuses for employees.

The strike is being jointly called by the CGT, CFE-CGE, Unsa, CFDT and FO unions, who said in a joint press release that the proposals will “definitively remove more than a month’s salary from all employees and force them to accept geographical mobility that will generate additional commuting time”.

Unions say that staff face dismissal if they do not sign the new contracts.

ADP said on Wednesday that it expected ‘slight delays for some flights but no cancellations’ to services – but it urged travellers to follow its social media operations for real-time updates.

On Thursday, the first day of action, 30 percent of flights were delayed between 15 minutes and half-an-hour.

ADP’s CEO Augustin de Romanet had said on Tuesday that ‘everything would be done to ensure no flight is cancelled’. 

ADP reported a loss of €1.17 billion in 2020. 

Stressing that discussions are continuing over the proposed new contracts, the CEO called for “an effort of solidarity, with a red line: no forced layoffs.”