The Iron Lady is back. No, not Margaret Thatcher but the Eiffel Tower that opens today after a three-month lockdown closure.
Paris’s most iconic monument welcomed its first post coronavirus visitors on Thursday morning, but they had to take the stairs.
Health regulations mean the lifts are out of service meaning a 674-step climb up – and back down again – to the second floor an exercise that will take between 30 and 45 minutes.
“Avoid trying to ascend with very young children or babies, or if you are in bad physical shape,” the tower’s online guide suggested.
The reopening of the iconic Dame de Fer is another sign that life is returning to near normal in the French capital that has seen a progressive lifting of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. France’s strict confinement ended on 11 May, but with the virus still circulating in the capital, certain restrictions remained until earlier this month.
The monument’s operators said masks were obligatory for all visitors over the age of 11 and markings had been placed on the structure to ensure people kept the 1-metre distance rule. The public areas of the tower will be “cleaned and disinfected” daily, they added.
Visitors wanting to get to the top, involving a sporting 1,665-step climb for the energetic, will have to wait. The third floor is not expected to open before 1 July, by which time the lifts should be open.
The tower closed on 13 March and has been shut for the longest period since the second world war. It normally has about 7 million visitors every year, 75% of them from abroad.
France opened its Schengen borders on 15 June, but will not open borders to international visitors before the beginning of July and even then it is not expected to allowtourists from certain countries still struggling with the coronavirus.
Victoria Klahr, a spokesperson for the company that runs the Eiffel Tower, said the reopening was being carried out “progressively”.
“Normally we can have 2,000 people on the first floor, but at the moment it’s limited to 750 and just 700 on the second floor compared with 1,200 normally,” she said.