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The Energy Observer, a former race boat turned into a autonomous navigation with hydrogen, sails past the Eiffel Tower on the Seine river in Paris, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. Energy Observer is the first self-sufficient energy vessel with zero greenhouse gas or fine particle emissions that is powered by hydrogen and renewable energies (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

Glass walls, not metal fencing, to surround Eiffel Tower

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By SYLVIE CORBET, Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — Goodbye metal fencing, hello glass walls: Paris authorities are building a permanent security belt around the Eiffel Tower, replacing the current fencing around it with more visually appealing glass walls.

The company operating France's most-visited monument says see-through panels are being set up at the north and south ends of the site. Each panel, made from over 6-centimeter (2.36-inch) thick armored glass, measures 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) high and weighs 1.5 tons.

In all, 450 glass panels will compose the two walls north and south of the monument.

Two graphic grids have been erected on the two other sides of the site and bollards against vehicle ramming attacks will be set up all around.

French soldiers and police will keep patrolling outside and inside the area, as they have done since the deadly November 2015 attacks in the French capital.

The glass walls being installed allow visitors to admire the views from the nearby Champ-de-Mars gardens to the other side of the Seine River that cuts through Paris.

The renovation, which will also embellish the gardens beneath the tower, is part of a 300 million euro ($350 million) project announced last year to modernize the 129-year-old tower that has become the most recognized landmark in Paris.

The security renovation should be completed by September.

"When you are on site, you see that the 3-meter high walls, compared to the scale of the monument, are absolutely not visible," said Jose Luis Fuentes, an architect at Dietmar Feichtinger Architects, which is in charge of the project. "It will really look as if the square (under the Eiffel Tower) was open."
Between 6 and 7 million people visit the Eiffel Tower every year.

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Catherine Gaschka in Paris contributed.

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