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What Would Paris Be Without the Eiffel Tower?

The Eiffel Tower has something to celebrate.

“La Grade Dame” turned 120 this past Monday. That’s ALMOST as old as Jeanne Calment was when she died in her 122nd year in August of 1997 — this French woman lived the longest life of any other human on record. Of course, one cannot compare an iron structure with a human, or can one?

You’ve heard me say many times that “Paris is a woman” — a very feminine city from my perspective, and that in spite of the tower’s potentially ‘masculine shape,’ “she” looks more like a woman wearing a broad skirt with a narrow waist, “n’est-ce pas?”

To celebrate the lady’s longevity, a year-long project has begun to give her a new coat of bronze paint. Twenty-five painters (all men, do you think?) will be applying over 60 tons of paint, costing (are you ready?) 170 million euros!

One journalist recently called her the “Iron Lady,” equating her with others who acquired the nickname, such as Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi. None of them lived as long or were as well taken care of. This is not her first ‘makeover’ — she’s undergone 17 ‘facelifts’ since her ‘birth,’ including color changes and attention paid to her illumination.

One of the painters is reported to have remarked, “Once you’re up there, you forget the ground, your worries, the dangers, everything stays behind.” I suppose that’s what famous top model Lisa Fonssagrives Penn must have felt as she dangled from the girders in this May 1939 Vogue photo by Erwin Blumenfeld. Luckily, there have never been any fatalities from the painting of the tower, or from posing on it as Lisa did, although there have been some injuries.

The restaurant on the first floor will also be rebaptised as “58 Tour Eiffel” and is scheduled to open tomorrow! The panorama of the city from its large windows almost 100 meters above ground is sure to be unforgettable, and safer than those who have dangled from that height. The total height of the tower is 300 meters not including the antennae on top, and was the tallest building until 1930 when the Chrysler Building in New York
City was completed surpassing it by only 19 meters. (The Empire State Building is 381 meters high, built in 1931.)

Designer Gustave Eiffel is likely to have had no idea that he would create not only the symbol of Paris, the most beautiful city in the world, but is certainly one of the most famous and important landmarks in the world. He had a permit for it to stand only for 20 years and the city planned to tear it down in 1909 until they realized its value as a radio tower.

So, what would Paris be without the Eiffel Tower? Would it still be the most beautiful city in the world, without La Grande Dame watching over her Parisian “enfants?” I hope to never see the day she isn’t standing to tell her many tales of the City of Light. Don’t you agree?

Bonne anniversaire, madame.

For more information, visit the official Web site at

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris



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P.S. Monday evening I’ll be speaking about how a $45,000 real estate investment in the year 2000 generated $2 million worth of real estate assets in less than ten years at author of “Detox Your Finances,” Justine Trueman’s, Women’s Only Investment Club meeting. To learn more about the evening and the club, visit or email Justine Trueman at [email protected]


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