Paris is set to unveil thick bulletproof glass walls and metal fences around the Eiffel Tower, designed to protect France’s most famous monument from terrorist attacks.
The boosted security measures, under construction since last year, come with France still on high alert after a string of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 240 people since 2015.
The new walls, shown to journalists during a site tour on Thursday, are part of security measures that have cost nearly 35 million euros ($40.7 million) and are due to be finished by mid-July.
Glass walls measuring 6.5 centimetres (2.5 inches) thick will run along the riverside Quai Branly boulevard as well as the Avenue Gustave Eiffel which separates the tower from a park.
The walls, which are bulletproof as well as resistant to vehicle-ramming attacks, are “rock-solid for absolute security”, said Bernard Gaudillere, head of the SETE, the company which runs the Eiffel Tower.
The other two sides will be fenced off with metal barriers formed from curved prongs in the form of the tower itself and at 3.24 metres high, stand exactly a hundredth of the height of the “Iron Lady”.
Gaudillere said his team worked with police to decide how best to secure a monument which has itself repeatedly switched off its twinkling night-time lights in memory of the victims of attacks around the world.
– ‘Dangerous times’ –
Tourists visiting the site Thursday said they felt reassured by the new measures, still mindful of the horrific Islamic State attacks of November 2015 in which 130 people were killed at Paris nightspots.
“We live in a dangerous time. I think it’s a great idea — when I see this I feel more safe,” said Edyta Poncyljusz, visiting from Warsaw.
David Luke, from the US state of Utah, noted with dismay that tourists are no longer free to walk under the tower as was the case last time he visited four years ago.
“But I think it’s a good idea,” he said of the security walls.
“It’s inconvenient and a little annoying, but we’re used to security measures in the US — going through metal detectors just for a basketball game.”
Like other French tourist sites, the tower is regularly patrolled by anti-terror troops, and the forecourt underneath the iron structure has been fenced off over terrorism fears since June 2016.
Gaudillere acknowledged that the temporary fences were “not very aesthetically pleasing”, giving the monument the look of a building site, but promised the end result would be “infinitely nicer and more romantic”.
He said the building work does not appear to have dented visitor numbers, which are still expected to reach up to seven million in 2018.
Tourists will still be able to access the gardens and the forecourt underneath the tower for free once passing through the security fences, he said.
The walls are part of a 300-million-euro revamp of the Eiffel Tower, with most of the work due to be completed ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Trump attacks 2 GOP governors on flight to Georgia rally: ‘Republicans will NEVER forget this’
Republicans have been "working frantically behind the scenes" to keep President Donald Trump on message during his Saturday campaign rally in Georgia, but the efforts do not seem to be working.
GOP strategists hoped Trump would make the case for the two GOP senators in the January runoff elections that will decide control of the U.S. Senate, but Trump has continued to fixate on his delusions that he won the presidential election.
Aboard Air Force One on the flight to the rally, Trump attacked two GOP governors: Brian Kemp of Georgia and Doug Ducey of Arizona -- and seemed to threaten political retribution for the pair not going along with the president's debunked conspiracy theories about the election.
Trump holds large rally in Georgia — one day after the Peach State set a new coronavirus record
President Donald Trump departed the White House on Saturday for an evening campaign rally in Georgia -- despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump is ostensively making the trip to support Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and interim Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) in the January runoff elections that will decide control of the U.S. Senate. However, Republicans fear Trump will use his speech to continue bashing GOP Gov. Brian Kemp.
Trump's visit also comes against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
Panicked Republicans ‘working frantically behind the scenes’ — but Trump just keeps attacking GOP Gov Brian Kemp
Republicans are worried that President Donald Trump will pour gasoline on the intraparty inferno burning in Georgia.
Trump is officially traveling to the Peach State for a rally in support of the two Republican senators in January runoff elections that will decide control of the U.S. Senate.
Republicans worry Trump will continue to attack Republican Gov. Brian Kemp as he has on Twitter.
"Trump is to headline a campaign rally for Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the state Saturday night — his first major political event since before the Nov. 3 election. GOP officials are working frantically behind the scenes to try to keep the president on script at the rally, worried that he will use the forum to attack Kemp and other state GOP officials who have resisted his pressure, according to a person familiar with the discussions," The Washington Post reported Saturday.