PARIS — Marking another milestone in France’s recovery from the coronavirus lockdown, the Eiffel Tower reopened to visitors on Thursday after its longest peacetime closure: 104 days.
Returning tourists to Paris have been delighted to find the monument open as some other attractions in the French capital remain closed. The Louvre Museum will not reopen until July 6.
“It’s very special, very special because it’s just the Parisians,” said Annelies Bouwhuis, a 43-year-old Dutch visitor. “We saw a lot of Parisians enjoying their city, enjoying their parks without all the tourists.”
The elevators that usually take visitors up the 324-meter (1,063-foot) tall wrought-iron Eiffel Tower remain closed, so for now people must use the stairs.
Of the three tower bridges, only the first two have reopened. Those who climbed the 674 steps on Thursday were rewarded with distant views and a light breeze in the scorching summer weather. Masks are mandatory for all visitors aged 11 and over.
“I booked the first slot because afterwards it will be very hot,” explained Sabine Peaufils, a 57-year-old Parisian. “It’s a real pleasure.”
The tower lost 27 million euros ($30 million) from the lockdown that began in March, according to its chief executive, Patrick Branco Ruivo.
France and other European countries with large tourism sectors are beginning to attract visitors, with mixed results.
The Louvre is preparing for a sharp drop in visitor numbers when it reopens.
Attendance at the Palace of Versailles has been falling since the former royal residence west of Paris reopened on June 6.
The palace has capped visits to a maximum of 4,500 people per day, spread throughout the day. This is a far cry from the 20,000 people a day the palace used to receive during the busy summer season.