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Eiffel Tower announces top floor to reopen to visitors

The Eiffel Tower in Paris will reopen its top level on July 15 after months of being off-limits because of the coronavirus outbreak, its operator said on Thursday.

Eiffel Tower announces top floor to reopen to visitors
AFP

The first and second floors reopened on June 26 after the monument's longest closure since World War II, a symbolic restart as France emerged from lockdown.

“Who hasn't dreamed of having Paris at their feet, from a height of 276 metres?” the tower's operator, Societe d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel said in a statement on Thursday.

“This will be possible from July 15th, the day of the reopening of the top floor.”

All visitors are required to wear face masks and keep safe distances from each other, with the country still recovering from an epidemic that has claimed nearly 30,000 lives.

When it reopens, the top floor will accommodate no more than 250 people at a time.

Elevators, which were off-limits for the first days after the tower reopened – meaning visitors had to climb hundreds of stairs – have since been reopened.

The tower's 104-day closure cost the company €27 million in lost sales, with visitor numbers not expected to return to normal anytime soon.

The Eiffel Tower usually receives about seven million visitors a year, some three-quarters from abroad.

France is one of the world's most-visited countries but its tourism industry has taken a hard hit from the coronavirus lockdown, with hotels, restaurants, museums and theatres closed for three months.

France lifted restrictions at European borders on June 15th, and the tourism industry hopes foreign visitors will start trickling in again as the summer season kicks off. 

Europe is not yet allowing visitors from the hard-hit United States.

The operator said three-quarters of its visitors since reopening had been from France.

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TOURISM

Tourism minister: Book your French ski holiday now

France’s ski resorts will be open for business this winter, tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has promised - but no decision has yet been taken on whether a health pass will be required to use ski lifts.

Skiers at a French Alpine resort
Photo: Philippe Desmazes / AFP

“This winter, it’s open, the resorts are open,” Lemoyne told France 2’s 4 Vérités programme.

“Compared to last year, we have the vaccine,” he said, adding that he would “invite those who have not yet done so to [book], because … there will soon be no more room.”

And he promised an answer ‘in the next few days’ to the question of whether health passes would be required for winter holidaymakers to use ski lifts. “Discussions are underway with the professionals,” he said.

The stakes are high: the closure of ski lifts last winter cost manufacturers and ski shops nearly a billion euros. 

This year ski lifts will remain open, but a health pass may be necessary to access them. The health pass is already compulsory for après ski activities such as visits to bars, cafés and restaurants.

COMPARE The Covid rules in place at ski resorts around Europe

Many town halls and communities which depend on winter sports have found it difficult or impossible to make ends meet.

“It’s time for the French mountains to revive,” Lemoyne said, pointing to the fact that the government has provided “more than €6 billion” in aid to the sector.

Winter tourism professionals, however, have said that they are struggling to recruit for the winter season.

“Restaurant and bars are very affected,” by the recruitment crisis, one expert told Franceinfo, blaming a lack of urgency from authorities towards the winter holiday industry.

“We are all asking ourselves what we should do tomorrow to find full employment in the resort,” the expert added.

Post-Brexit visa and work permit rules mean that ski businesses have found it difficult to recruit Brits for short-term, seasonal positions.

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