PARIS (AP) – The Eiffel Tower marked another milestone in France’s recovery after the corona virus shutdown and reopened to visitors Thursday after the longest peacetime shutdown: 104 days.
Tourists dribbling back to Paris were delighted that the monument was open when some other attractions in the French capital remained closed. The Louvre Museum will not open again until July 6.
“It is very special, very special because it is only the Parisians,” says Annelies Bouwhuis, a 43-year-old visitor from the Netherlands. “We have seen many Parisians enjoying their city, enjoying their parks without all the tourists.”
Elevators that usually take visitors to the 324-meter-high wrought-iron Eiffel Tower remain closed, so for now people have to take the stairs.
Of the tower’s three decks, only the first two have been reopened. Those who climbed the 674 steps on Thursday were rewarded with distant views and a light breeze in blazing summer weather. Masks are mandatory for all visitors aged 11 and older.
“I booked the first slot because it will get very hot afterwards,” said Sabine Peaufils, a 57-year-old Parisian. “This is a real pleasure.”
According to director general Patrick Branco Ruivo, the tower lost $ 27 million ($ 30 million) due to the closure that began in March.
France and other European countries with major tourism sectors are starting to attract visitors, with mixed results.
The Louvre is bracing for a steep drop in visitor numbers when it reopens.
Visitor numbers have declined at the Palace of Versailles since the former royal residence west of Paris reopened on June 6.
The palace closed visits with a maximum of 4,500 people per day, spread over the day. That is much less than the 20,000 people a day the palace received earlier in the busy summer season.
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