Up on a flower bed, from a distance, taking a low angle view… In a Paris under construction, tourists manage to photograph the symbolic Eiffel Tower Y notre damewith a mixture of disappointment and joy of traveling after years of pandemic.
Two years after the Olympic Games, scaffolding and fences spread through several of the city’s emblematic buildings such as the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais, the Louvre museum and, of course, Notre-Dame, after the fire of 2019.
“It is a shame that this area is under construction, because it is also the most emblematic of Paris. Take our photo here at the Eiffel Tower”, explains Eva Caro, a 43-year-old Spanish tourist on the Trocadero esplanade.
The square, flanked by golden statues, offers a postcard view of the “Iron Lady”, immortalized by millions of people every year. In June 1940, one of the most iconic photos of Hitler in occupied Paris was taken from here.
But the long renovation works on the esplanade, which are nearing their end, sow the horizon with fences, an inconvenience in the era of social networks because they prevent vacations from being shared without visual interference.
“Finally, after COVID, we come and this is where I start my tour. I go up, I see the skaters and I take a picture and I know I’m in Paris,” says Tami Agmon, an Israeli doctor, who says she is “annoyed” with the fences, painted with graffiti.
To try to capture the silhouette of the iconic monument built by Gustave Eiffel for the Universal Exhibition of 1889, dozens of tourists climb a flower bed on this day of late spring.
“It seems dangerous to me that we have to go up here because we could fall and it would spoil the trip,” says the Spanish tourist, who climbed on it to take a picture with the ‘City of Love’ in the background, while drawing a heart with her hands.
Francine Cabrier, a municipal official in the French Alps region, opts for her part to get as far away as possible to capture the 330-meter-high tower. “What a pity! What a shame!” lamented the 55-year-old woman.
“Paris is Paris”
At the foot of the Eiffel Tower, the spectacular scaffolding installed for the painting of this symbol, which will regain a more golden appearance for the 2024 Olympic Games, does not make life easier for some resigned tourists either.
Near one of the pillars, María Paz Lindeman and Ernesto Silva, two 34-year-old tourists living in Mexico City, take a low angle view with their cell phones to try to hide the scaffolding from view.
“Well, the truth is that I started to think and said: I think I have never seen someone have the perfect photo. I think they are always fixing something and I understand that it has to be fixed”, confesses Lindeman, a Peruvian teacher.
Before the Notre-Dame cathedral, the desperation of Steven Engelberg, a 66-year-old American tourist, is evident. “We were at the Eiffel Tower and the works that were there spoiled our photos a bit, but nothing compared to this!”, He assures.
To cover the structures, the Church of the Madeleine chose to display an advertising canvas, with the image of the tourist Mont Saint-Michel. The National Assembly, located opposite a kilometer away, chose to reproduce its façade.
Halfway up the path, at the foot of the Obelisk of Concord, Thierry Collegia, a tour guide who has just finished a visit to the Paris of the Revolution, indicates the tourists’ questions about the works and the advertising banners.
“I mainly explain to them that it is for the 2024 Olympic Games”, indicates Collegia, who, despite the works, notes that “people really feel happy to be able to visit Paris again”. “And there are so many monuments that we can admire…”.
Tourist numbers in the French capital are approaching pre-pandemic levels. From January to May 2022, attendance was 12.1 million people, three million less than in the same period in 2019, according to the Paris mayor’s office.
Gloria Ramírez, a 56-year-old Colombian lawyer, also decided to cross the Atlantic and has no regrets. “We would still have come if we had known that she was under construction. Nothing happens. Paris is Paris,” she assures.