Eiffel tower

Was the Eiffel Tower the pledge of a lost love?

The Eiffel Tower has long captured the hearts of couples in love.

Now, a new film is pushing a rightly romantic theory that the impending structure was built by its creator as a tribute to the woman he loved.

Eiffel, which opens tomorrow in Paris, tells the story of engineer Gustave Eiffel (Romain Duris) and his journey to build what would become one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks.

As in real life, the film portrays Eiffel as initially reluctant to build the 324m tower, originally intended to serve as a temporary structure at the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair. Yet, in a decision that baffles historians, he finally accepted.

The film’s explanation for this change of heart is a woman named Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey), whom Eiffel had loved in her youth but was denied permission to marry.

A Doomed Love Behind the Tower: Eiffel stars Roman Duris as engineer Gustave Eiffel and Sex Education’s Emma Mackey as Adrienne Bourgès, the woman he believes inspired the tower

Change of heart: As in real life, the film depicts Eiffel (pictured) as initially reluctant to build the 324m tower, originally intended as a temporary structure for the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair. Yet, in a decision that baffles historians, he finally accepted

Change of heart: As in real life, the film depicts Eiffel (pictured) as initially reluctant to build the 324m tower, originally intended as a temporary structure for the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair. Yet, in a decision that baffles historians, he finally accepted

A token of his love: The plot claims that a chance meeting between the two later in life inspired Eiffel to create the tower, even taking inspiration from Adrienne's initial for the frame

A token of his love: The plot claims that a chance meeting between the two later in life inspired Eiffel to create the tower, even taking inspiration from Adrienne’s initial for the ‘A’ frame.

The plot claims that a chance meeting between the couple later in life inspired Eiffel to create the tower, even taking inspiration from Adrienne’s initial for the ‘A’ frame.

After a decades-long journey from page to screen, Eiffel has been met with huge acclaim from critics and is set to boost France’s flagging film industry following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Its producer, Vanessa van Zuylen, went so far as to compare the film to the “French Titanic”.

Eiffel is a mix of a historically accurate biopic and a fictional love story.

Gustave Eiffel really met Bourgès. The couple were introduced to her native Bordeaux when she was 17 and he was 27 and at the start of his career. He had come to town to build an iron bridge over the Garonne.

The romance blossomed and the couple hoped to marry but Eiffel’s request for proposal was turned down by Bourges’ father, who did not think he was good enough for his daughter.

Family life: Gustave married family friend Marguerite Gaudelet (seated left), from his hometown of Dijon.  The couple had five children (pictured) before his death in 1877, aged 32

Family life: Gustave married family friend Marguerite Gaudelet (seated left), from his hometown of Dijon. The couple had five children (pictured) before his death in 1877, aged 32

“He was heartbroken but also seriously humiliated,” Bongrand told AirMail.

“Everything that happened next flowed from that. It wasn’t so much that he wanted revenge but rather to prove to the world what he could do.

‘After that, he wrote to his mother and said, “That’s all for me. Just find me a nice girl with a good character, who is wise and simple. I don’t have to fall in love with you.” her. I just want to get married”.

This “nice girl” was a friend of the Marguerite Gaudelet family, from her hometown of Dijon. The couple had five children before his death in 1877, aged 32.

Eiffel, who was 42, wealthy and successful when he lost his wife, never remarried.

It is at this point in the story that the fictional meeting with Bourgès takes place.

Single: Eiffel, who was 42, rich and successful when he lost his wife, never remarried.  Pictured is Eiffel with four of his children in 1882, five years after his wife's death

Single: Eiffel, who was 42, rich and successful when he lost his wife, never remarried. Pictured is Eiffel with four of his children in 1882, five years after his wife’s death

Eiffel meets Bourgès, now married to one of her friends, and falls in love with her again. In Bongrand’s account of the events, he builds the tower in order to impress her.

The film presents the contemporary objection to the design, which has been called a horror by city luminaries.

However, historians have spoken out against the historical accuracy of the film as a whole.

Christine Kerdellant, author of a biography of the engineer, La Vraie Vie de Gustave Eiffel (The Real Life of Gustave Eiffel), told The Times that the theory was simply not true.

She said the tower was actually designed by Eiffel’s assistants, although the ‘A’ shape reminded engineer Adrienne and a beloved cousin, Alice.

Film analysts are expecting big things for Eiffel despite the inaccuracies, with some predicting record monthly receipts.