Eiffel Tower's Olympic Revamp Angers Thousands

125K have signed petition against tree felling
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2022 8:10 AM CDT
Eiffel Tower's Olympic Revamp Angers Thousands
People relax at the Champ-de-Mars garden next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, July 16, 2021.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

The Eiffel Tower is undergoing a makeover, including a paint job, before the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, though not all Parisians are happy with the planned changes. AFP reports some are "up in arms" over a plan to fell 22 trees near the base of the famous landmark, to allow construction of semi-submerged tourist facilities and offices, which will become part of a larger green space. "We reject the felling and endangerment of dozens of healthy trees, in particular the 200-year-old and 100-year-old trees, which really are the city's green lungs," reads a Change.org petition launched by environmental groups, which has garnered some 125,000 signatures.

However, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire says "no 100-year-old tree will be cut down," and dozens of new trees will be planted to replace the 22. Officials initially planned to fell 42 trees before limiting the number. Gregoire's aides tell AFP they're continuing to look for ways to reduce the damage to trees while working to create a new green space in the center of Paris. It's to include pedestrian-friendly gardens and pathways and two new public squares called Place de Varsovie and Place Branly, per Lonely Planet. "They are creating some vegetation, but they are destroying a lot of it at the same time," says petition backer Philippe Khayat of SOS Paris.

Meanwhile, the tower itself is undergoing "the most extensive revamp of its 130-year history," estimated to cost $60 million, per AFP. All 19 previous coats of paint will be removed from the tower, which is to be repainted in a yellow-brown shade originally selected by architect Gustave Eiffel. "It's going to give the Eiffel Tower a bit more of a gold hue than the color that we're used to seeing, in time for the Olympic Games," Patrick Branco Ruivo, CEO of the company that operates the tower, told AFP in February. The Eiffel Tower will act as a backdrop for the triathlon and open water swimming events. (More Eiffel Tower stories.)

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