Why Is The Arc De Triomphe Wrapped Up

Extensive Restoration Efforts

Located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris at the Place Charles de Gaulle, the Arc de Triomphe is an iconic monument that serves as a monument to those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Visitors from all over the world come to experience the monument’s grandiose presence which towers 50 meters high and 45 meters wide. However, the Arc is currently wrapped in protective scaffolding while undergoing its most significant restoration since it was completed in 1836.

The Arc de Triomphe was first commissioned in 1806 by Emperor Napoleon to celebrate his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. Since then, it has been the centerpiece of a number of military events including the end of World War I. Nonetheless, due to air pollution and exposure to the elements, both the 1924 Universal Exhibition and the bicentenary of the Revolution of 1830 saw the monument undergo major repair efforts.

More recently in 2017, the City of Paris announced plans to commence a restoration project of 45.6 million euros that would involve renovating the stones, columns, and interior of the monument. The Arc is made up of 163 stone blocks, most of which have been replaced or repaired due to corrosion, pollution, or physical damage. There have also been significant efforts to clean the walls of the monument, remove micro-organisms and lichens, and treat cracks in the stones. Furthermore, the doors of the monument have been replaced, the interior structure strengthened, and the lighting around the monument upgraded. In order to protect the worksite and ensure the safety of visitors, the city has resorted to wrapping the Arc in large panels designed to withstand the region’s rainy and windy weather.

Preserving the Monument

The need for the restoration project is driven by its necessity to preserve this important historical monument for future generations. As pointed out by Erick Lelong, the artistic director of the Arc de Triomphe, “It was necessary to intervene in the most effective way possible with a view to the future, both in terms of materials used in the restoration and in terms of the techniques employed to conserve the monuments in the longer term.” This sentiment was echoed by Emmanuel Grégoire, the deputy mayor of Paris, who noted that “this major operation came at the right time, as we had already noticed a tangible deterioration in the appearance of the monument.”

The Monument has also received professional assessments from experts in the field. According to Ramon van Handel, a restoration architect, “Cleaning, diagnosing and fixing the structural problems of the monument required an interdisciplinary team of engineers and art historians who, in addition to technical methods, had to rely on traditional ones passed down for generations.” This approach also served to maintain the rough, uneven surface of the monument that provides it with its distinct and rich history.

An expert from the Parisian Cultural Ministry, who remains anonymous, describes the restoration as more of a conservation effort than a restoration project. He explains, “The goal is to save the history of the monument, not redo it. So we cannot just restore and repair, we must also find ways to preserve it for the future and ensure it is maintained for many more generations to come.” Thus, the effort to preserve the stone blocks, columns, and interior of the monument serves to protect the overall integrity of the Arc and also safeguard it from further damage.

Protected Environment

The scaffolding panels set up around the Arc provide a sheltered environment within which the workers can perform the restoration and repairs safely. The City of Paris confirms that the panels will filter a large portion of the pollutants while still allowing visitors to get a good look at the monument up close. Furthermore, it helps to reduce the risk of accident by providing a secure location for pedestrians and other public transport vehicles. To ensure the restoration team can work without disturbance, the whole site around the Arc de Triomphe has been closed off to visitors until further notice.

In addition, expert scaffolding engineers from the National Monuments Centre, who designed the support scaffolding around the Arc, have recommended using special panels to contain dust emissions from the restoration worksite and limit the risks posed to the surrounding area. Furthermore, in order to get an accurate view of the worksite, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were deployed to provide a detailed image of the current state of the restoration effort.

The project is expected to last 24 months, during which time the Arc will remain under protection. As Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo noted, “The arc de triomphe is a universal symbol of French glory and will remain so throughout the restoration. We owe it to the great men and women it was built to commemorate, to ensure its resilience and longevity.” Ultimately, these efforts are expected to give the iconic monument a new lease of life so that it can continue to be admired and appreciated by visitors from all around the world.

Global Monument of Historic Significance

In addition to being one of the largest monuments in the world and a major tourist attraction for Paris, the Arc de Triomphe is also a symbol of historic significance. From wartime victory parades to memorials for the deceased soldiers, the Arc stands for much more than a physical construction. According to Nicolas Chapuis, French Ambassador to the United States, “This monument carries the memories of a shared past, of the courage and valor of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their homeland. It encapsulates the very-best of French history, showing both its triumphs and defeats.”

No matter the location, when visitors pass through the great arch they feel a sense of grandiosity and peace. With a direct view of the Champs Elysees, it is no surprise that its restoration is welcomed by many as part of the city’s ongoing efforts to improve Paris for its inhabitants and visitors. Elisabeth Borne, Minister for Ecological Transition notes: “Preserving this grandiose monument not only honors our heroes from the past, but also celebrates our joint efforts today to build a better future for generations to come.”

Even with the restoration project underway, the monument remains a must-visit location for tourists and locals alike. It draws an average of 7 million visitors each year, making it the most visited sight in Paris. The monument stands as a reminder of times past and serves as a call to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for the nation’s freedom. It is a beacon of hope, a source of national pride, and an expression of unity in times of peace and war.

Uncertainty Around Completion Date

Fans of the Arc will be pleased to know that the restoration project remains on track, with 50% of the worksite having been completed to date. Despite this, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the official completion date for the worksite has yet to be announced. This has caused uncertainty among many surrounding the ability of the project to meet its original completion date.

Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, the president of the French employers’ union, Medef, is part of the group of experts who strive to keep the project on track. He recently noted that “our work to ensure the project is completed on schedule has been put on hold due to the pandemic. We cannot guarantee the original completion date, but we remain firmly committed to completing the worksite as quickly and safely as possible.”

The disruption of the worksite has also been highlighted by co-operatives responsible for the upkeep of the monument. Prieur-Léglise, a leading stone-working firm, commented on the restoration work, noting “we had to postpone part of our work in order to adapt to the health constraints. But we remain confident that our team will be able to complete the project without compromising the safety of workers and visitors.”

The temporary closure of the sight has impacted the thousands of workers employed on the restoration. Displaying solidarity and commitment to ensuring the project’s successful completion, teams from all over the world have worked remotely to ensure the project remains on track. The implementation of new technologies, including virtual reality, has allowed overseas experts to advise on the project without having to travel to Paris.

Innovative Technology

By using 3D scans of the monument, experts have been able to monitor the progress of the restoration. There have also been significant advancements in the use of innovative materials and methods, such as the application of nano-ceramics to help protect the stone and the use of robots to improve the accuracy of restoration work.

Nicolas de Maillard, a materials engineering specialist, noted that, “with the rise of 3D models and the use of digital technology, we can now understand the intricacies of the monument in much greater detail than we ever have before. We are able to create complex digital simulations and observe the worksite from near and far in order to identify where more work is needed.”

The use of robotic technology has allowed teams to reconstruct elements of the monument with greater precision and accuracy. As Adil Rahmouni, an engineer for the project explains, “Robotics and industrial automation bring numerous advantages to the worksite. Our robotic arm can manoeuvre into tight spaces and scan the surface of the stones to detect cracks and corrosion. This data can then be fed into a computer, which generates a 3D model of the area for further analysis.”

With the project expected to be complete by the end of 2022, the world will soon see the final product of this major restoration effort and the Arc de Triomphe will resume its place as one of the most iconic monuments in Europe.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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