The Eiffel Tower closes due to labor action on the creator's anniversary


History lovers visiting Paris might have made a plan to visit the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday. After all, it was the centenary of the death of Gustave Eiffel, the civil engineer of the same name whose company designed and built it.

But the sign they discovered next to the landmark contained grim news: “La Tour Eiffel is currently fermée.” The tower was closed.

The reason will be familiar to anyone who has spent considerable time in France: a labor action.

Tourists could stroll around the Esplanade, the ground-level area around the base of the tower. But they couldn't spend the 28.3 euros it costs to take an elevator to the top, nor pay the reduced rate of 21.5 euros for those brave souls willing to take the stairs about halfway up.

Peaking at 1,083 feet, or about three-quarters the height of the Empire State Building, including its spire, the tower attracts between six and seven million tourists a year.

Easily visible from almost anywhere in Paris, it supposedly inspired a joke by De Maupassant, Flaubert, Balzac or William Morris. Any of these writers frequently dined at the Tower, and when asked why he replied, perhaps apocryphally, “It's the only place in Paris where I can't see that thing.”

The Confédération générale du travail, the union representing tower workers, did not respond to a request for comment, but was quoted by the BBC as saying the tower operators were “heading towards disaster” and called their economic plans “too ambitious and unsustainable”. ”Because they underestimated the costs of its maintenance and renovation.

As planned, a son et lumière (light and sound) show will be held to celebrate the anniversary.

Completed in 1889 by Eiffel and his engineers and construction workers to commemorate another centenary (the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution), the tower has not stayed out of the news since.

More recently, it made international headlines when it was discovered that two American tourists had spent the night there.

The Eiffel Tower was also closed in March, as were many other sites, including the Louvre, as a result of widespread labor protests over a law raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

The tower was expected to reopen on Thursday, so tourists can once again enjoy the view that has captivated visitors for more than a century.

But they will have to hurry. The price rises to €29.40 on January 1.

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