The Parisian landscape is to undergo a major change in response to the threat of terrorism after city authorities confirmed plans for the erection of a permanent security barrier around the Eiffel Tower.
The €20m structure will replace temporary fences first put up in 2012 after the Euro 2012 tournament and which have remained there since 2015 after a series of terror attacks across France.
It will be a massive overhaul for Paris’s most iconic monument, incorporating the space under the tower and two ponds on either side of it in an area about 200 by 300 metres.
According to French daily Le Parisien, the wall will be made of bullet-proof glass and will stand 2.5 metres high.
“Sadly, the risk of terrorism hasn’t gone away,” deputy mayor Jean-François Martins said at a Paris press conference. “This is a necessity in terms of security, but it will also make it possible to re-establish a link between the forecourt of the monument and the gardens,” he said.
He told journalists, “It’s not a wall, it’s an aesthetic perimeter.” “All the works to secure the Eiffel Tower are done in consultation with the Architects of the Buildings of France so that it fits as well as possible in the neighbourhood,” he added.
The “anti-ballistic fence”, as Bernard Gaudillère, president of the Society of Exploitation of the Eiffel Tower described it, comes ahead of a wider renovation of the site.
A €300m overhaul is planned to modernise the site over the next 15 years in a bid to improve and reorganise tourism at the tower, reduce queuing times and carry out essential maintenance work. But the wall will mean tourists will no-longer be able to wander under the tower seeking a photo opportunity and must instead pass through security gates to enter the secure compound.
Over the past two years, France has fallen victim to a series of major terror attacks, including the Charlie Hebdo mass shooting in January 2015 in which 17 people were killed, the Paris attacks in November 2015, in which 130 were killed in coordinated attacks across the city, and the Bastille Day attack in Nice, in which 86 were killed when a lorry was driven into celebrating crowds.
In 2016, a priest was killed in an attack at a church that was later claimed by the Islamic State.