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HomeWorldAiling Eiffel Tower dragged into Paris city hall power play

Ailing Eiffel Tower dragged into Paris city hall power play

A sign reading “Due to a strike, the Eiffel Tower is closed. We apoligise” hangs in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, February 19, 2024.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

The Eiffel Tower, attacked by rust and well behind on its maintenance schedule, has taken centre stage in a power struggle between the Paris Mayor and her main rival, the French Minister of Culture.

A five-day strike at the Eiffel Tower this month drew attention to the monument’s bad state of repair. Unions said the iconic monument was doomed unless its owner, the city of Paris, made massive funds available to get it back into good nick. The tower’s creator, Gustave Eiffel, recommended at the time of its inauguration in 1889 that it should be painted every seven years to keep inevitable rust at bay. But the 300-metre iron structure has not been given a full paint job since 2010.

Unions said during the strike there were “several corrosion points… visible”, which were “signs of a worrying deteriorating of the monument”.

Local associations have warned of “safety problems” if the rust is left unchecked. The protests prompted France’s recently-appointed right-wing Culture Minister, Rachida Dati, to weigh in.

She said left-wing Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo should ask for the Eiffel Tower to be given “historical monument” status. Unusually for such a high-profile site, it does not already have that protection. The classification, Ms. Dati said on X, would give the French government the power to override the city of Paris and “undertake construction work, by force if necessary”. “The Eiffel Tower is not sufficiently protected”, she said. Ms. Dati had recently confirmed that she wants to run for Paris Mayor in 2026, having failed to dislodge Hidalgo in the 2020 election for the powerful post.

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