Fears €60m repaint won’t save ‘rusting’ Eiffel Tower

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The Eiffel Tower is 324m high and weighs 7,300 tonnes  (AP)
The Eiffel Tower is 324m high and weighs 7,300 tonnes (AP)

The Eiffel Tower is riddled with rust but its management has only committed to giving it a repaint, leaked reports have suggested.

French magazine Marianne published reports suggesting the structure, completed in 1889, is in need of greater repair than will be given ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Insiders called the €60million repaint, which is underway ahead of the Games, “lamentable”.

The magazine said plans to replace a third of the tower’s exterior with two new coats of paint were scaled back due to Covid and only 5 per cent will now be treated.

The 324-metre-tall tower was designed to stand for only 20 years before being dismantled.

Gustave Eiffel, whose team led the construction, said paint was the “essential ingredient for protecting a metallic structure,” and that a new coat was needed every seven years. The tower has been repainted 20 times since opening.

Experts told Marianne the tower needs stripping back to the metal before being repaired and repainted. A report in 2016 found 884 faults - adding to the similar findings of previous studies completed in 2010 and 2014.

“At best it will be mostly useless, but at the very worst it will make the defects in the existing layer of paint worse and result in corrosion,” said an unnamed insider in Marianne.

They expressed concern that the original paint would do a better job of protecting the metal than the more modern paint it is being replaced with.

Sete, the company which runs the largely city hall-owned tower, is thought to be at risk of losing millions if the Eiffel - the fourth most popular French tourist attraction - was to close for a long period.

Architect and historian Bertrand Lemoine wrote on the official website: “The enemy of iron is corrosion, caused by water and air that gradually oxidises iron exposed to open air.

“The layer of paint that protects the metal of the tower is very effective, but it must be periodically replaced. In fact, the tower has been repainted for over 130 years, about once every seven years. So if it is repainted, the Eiffel Tower can last... forever.”

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