The Eiffel Tower, that indelibly French feat of engineering, is currently undergoing improvements that will bring some its more “rustique” elements into the 21st century. Nearly 120 years old, the fabled structure still has drawing power with almost 7 million annual visitors. But in order to improve the overall visitor experience (read: reduce wait-time in lines), the Paris Mayor’s Office recently announced a substantial modernization project with a price tag of $267 million. Slated for completion in 2015, the renovations include new restaurants, bars and boutiques along with larger capacity elevators, replacing the ones originally installed by Gustave Eiffel in 1889.
Some specifics include the redesign of the ground-level space under the tower. More accessible ticket booths, information desks, baggage storage and ATMs will be incorporated into a welcome center, along with improved services for the disabled, which is to be a key factor in the new layout. Portions of the work have already been completed, including a makeover of the upscale Jules Verne restaurant, located on the second floor. The restaurant, now helmed by world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse, recently re-opened after a four-month renovation.
The tower is also set to go green, as new efforts are planned to reduce the structure’s environmental footprint. Plans are being made to reduce water consumption, electricity usage (it takes 20,000 bulbs to light the tower), and the 700 tons of trash that is produced annually.
Finally, modernization will also come to the way visitors acquire their tickets, as next year individuals will be able to reserve their tickets and times in advance online, a service already available to tour operators. Vive la upgrade…