Going for gold: Eiffel Tower gets Olympic facelift

·2-min read

The Eiffel Tower has embarked on the most extensive revamp of its 130-year history to look its best for the 2024 Paris Olympics, including with a paint job giving it a distinctly golden hue.

Not only will layers from the 19 previous coats of paint be removed, but the Paris icon will also lose the signature "Eiffel Tower brown" it has sported since 1968.

It will be replaced with a yellow-brown composition that Gustave Eiffel himself wanted for his monument.

"It's going to give the Eiffel Tower a bit more of a gold hue than the colour that we're used to seeing, in time for the Olympic Games," said Patrick Branco Ruivo, the CEO of the company operating the tower.

The renovation job for the 324-metre (1,063-foot) tower, with its 18,000 metal pieces held together by 2.5 million rivets, is monumental, coming to an estimated 50 million euros ($60 million).

The stripping of the old layers is made hazardous by the presence of lead, requiring a strict health protocol for workers.

The Eiffel Tower receives a new coat of paint every seven years, as much for the protection of its metallic structure from the wind, rain, sun and pollution, as for the maintenance of its looks.

The current work started in 2019 and is to be completed by 2022 when the new shade of gold -- which for now can be detected only vaguely at the top of the tower -- will be visible to all.

"Why did Gustave Eiffel pick yellow-brown? Probably so the Eiffel Tower would echo the whole city of Paris, with its cut-stone houses made of limestone," said Pierre-Antoine Gatier, the chief architect for France's historical monuments who decided on the colour change.

For some of the workers it's the job of a lifetime.

"Most of the time we move around like at a treetop adventure course," said Antoine Olhagaray, a 22-year old steeplejack.

"Not to mention the view," added his colleague, Charles-Henri Piret. "It's not every day you get to hang off a rope at 300 metres."

The Eiffel Tower will play a prominent part in the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, serving as a backdrop for the triathlon and open water swimming events.

It will also tower over much of the adjacent festivities along the river Seine, where crowds are expected to flock for shows, concerts and other entertainment.

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