Paris City Hall announced Thursday an eight-foot tall bulletproof glass wall will shield the iconic Belle-Epoque Eiffel Tower from terrorist threats.
Coming just six days after a lone knife attacker rushed soldiers protecting the Louvre Palace museum, the new permanent wall will replace a temporary structure put in place in Summer 2016. Speaking in Paris Thursday morning, Bernard Gaudillères, president of the organisation that operates the tower, said the “bulletproof wall will encompass most of the gardens of the Eiffel Tower”, reports Le Figaro.
Mr. Gaudillères said because the wall will be made of bulletproof glass, it will still allow views of the Tower from the street. The new wall will prevent tourists and, it is hoped, would-be terrorists from approaching from any direction.
Now instead of walking to the monument from the street, visitors will be forced to enter through security checkpoints through the gardens. Despite this change, Paris has said access to the gardens and square underneath the tower will remain free of charge.
The decision to use glass, which will cost Paris some €20 million (£17 million), will prevent the tower from taking on the appearance of a “fortress”, and won’t “distort the architectural aspects of the surroundings”, reports Le Parisien.
This development comes as Paris struggles to recover the flagging tourist trade in the city, which has been driven away by fear of terrorism and surging crime. Breitbart London reported in January how Chinese tour operators are seeing a slump in bookings in France, with wealthy travellers instead opting for safer destinations like Italy, Spain, and Russia.
Jean-François Zhou, spokesman for a major Chinese travel firm, explained the attitude shift away from France, saying: “For a number of Chinese tourists, the dream of visiting France and Paris has turned into a nightmare.
“[Chinese tourists] are robbed in the palace of Versailles, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, in front of their hotel, as they leave the coaches … In high season, not a day goes by without tourists being assaulted”.
The Chinese ex-pat who has lived in Paris for 20 years said he had watched the city become the number-one in Europe for “the upsurge in delinquency”.
Oliver JJ Lane
9 February 2017