Millions of tourists cannot imagine a vacation in Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower. Therefore, the idea of closing the landmark of the French capital – especially after two years of pandemic – is not an option either. Experts believe that renovation is really necessary. In France, many people are therefore asking: “Do we have to worry about the condition of the Eiffel Tower?” According to a report in the French magazine “Marianne”, the tower is in poor condition and needs a complete overhaul. Corrosion is obviously affecting him. But so far it has simply been repainted – and only partially.
“We saw Notre Dame burn, will we see the Eiffel Tower collapse?” the report said. The building has long been said to have major defects. The 324 meter high and 7300 ton iron tower was actually not meant to last forever. Built over two years for the 1889 World’s Fair, it was originally intended to last only 20 years before being dismantled. In the meantime, however, the tower, which many initially found ugly and an eyesore for Paris, had become the city’s star and national symbol.
Master builder Gustave Eiffel warned early on that the monument would have to be constantly revised and painted every seven years. “The most important thing is to avoid rust forming,” he stressed. Initially, the structure was given several coats of lead paint to protect it from rusting, which is now banned. In 1995 it was canceled for the first time without the addition of lead. Now rust is said to be the main problem for the tower. According to experts, this has apparently already spread so far that it would have to be completely restored. Marianne magazine had access to otherwise classified reports from several technical control companies.
But there isn’t enough time for a complete overhaul because the Olympic Games are taking place in Paris in two years. An Eiffel Tower closed for construction work would be unthinkable. That’s why it’s now being painted for the 20th time, and at over 80 million euros, it’s supposed to be almost three times as expensive as originally planned. It should actually be painted over a large area, but there is no longer enough time for this. Instead of a third as planned, only around five percent will now be cut. The pandemic and traces of a lot of lead delayed and made work started in 2019 more expensive. The experts call the new coat of paint just a “cosmetic facelift”; it doesn’t improve the situation in any way, especially since 70 percent of the coat of paint doesn’t last long on the iron because there are already too many old layers underneath. Actually, all the old paint should be removed and then a new coat of paint applied.
The Olympics aren’t the only reason for a delay in renovations. Around six million people visit the monument each year, making it the fourth most visited site in France after Disneyland, the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles. Without the visitors, millions of revenues would be lost – unthinkable, especially after the pandemic, which caused a loss of revenue of more than 50 million euros.
The situation is not new. Various experts examined the condition of the “iron lady” again and again. As early as 2010, it was said that the tower had to be revised. Four years later it was found to have cracks and rust. According to the architectural firm SLH Ingénierie, there were already 884 defects in 2016, 68 of which are said to be risky for the structure. A new layer of paint could even accelerate the corrosion underneath, they say. But there is uncertainty about this, other specialists believe that the new color could further protect the landmark from environmental influences.
Patrick Branco Ruivo, general manager of the company operating the tower (Sete), rejected the conclusion that the Eiffel Tower was doing badly on French television: “Of the 68 defects, we have already dealt with six and we will deal with the others too.” For the first time in Throughout its history, parts of the Eiffel Tower that have suffered particularly badly have had their paint stripped entirely. The iron underneath is said to have been in good condition. The general director is convinced: “He will continue to stand with this good iron.”
An independent expert confirmed the view on TV channel TF1. Pierre-Antoine Gatier, Chief Architects and Inspector General of Historic Buildings, stressed: “Below this color, which is fading and which is irregular, the iron chosen by Gustave Eiffel is still in remarkably good condition.” In the Paris City Council, the State of the Eiffel Tower remains an issue. Republicans, who are in opposition, are demanding clarification and further investigations from Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the Eiffel Tower’s operating company, which is 99 percent owned by the city of Paris.