"It's perfect, it's VIP!". Still few in number, a few tourists like Vanessa Vila took advantage of the reopening of the Eiffel Tower on Thursday, after more than three months of forced sleep due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We had already tried to come two years ago, but there were too many people," rejoices this forty-something woman, sneakers on her feet after having faced the some 700 steps, 674 exactly, which separate the ground from the second floor of the "Iron Lady".
Nothing to discourage Thérèse, a sexagenarian from the south of France, clearly moved.
"I have tears in my eyes, but it's joy. It's an emotional moment after these difficult months," she told AFP.
"I am well equipped. I'm going to go up but + piano, piano +. And if I can't, it's not a big deal!", She smiles.
In a festive atmosphere, thanks in particular to a small Brazilian brass band at the foot of the building, the first visitors were able to enter around 8:00 GMT to climb the famous monument, a world famous symbol of Paris.
The big day crowd was not yet back, however.
"There are more journalists than tourists," laughs Ingo, a 35-year-old German, on a business trip to Paris.
"We expected a lot more people. As the borders are closed there are not many foreigners," concedes Yacine Gueblaoui who controls the wearing of masks at the entrance to the monument.
If the borders with other European countries gradually reopen, many restrictions remain for visitors from other continents.
"We sold 700 tickets online today," said Patrick Branco Ruivo, managing director of the Eiffel Tower.
"What we will do in a day we usually do in an hour," confirms Federico, reception officer.
- Enthusiasm of visitors -
Signposted route, wearing a mandatory mask and respecting distance: the reopening criteria did not spoil the enthusiasm of the first visitors.
"It's wonderful to be here. I'm a little sad that the summit is not open, but it's going to be okay. Now we're going to have to climb the stairs," laughs Shanique Chintsanya, an American tourist, who lives in Germany.
Alex, a fifteen-year-old Dutchman, came with his mother and is delighted to be able to visit the emblematic Parisian monument, which has been closed since March 13.
"It's the first time I've come to Paris, and it's really great to be here. We saw that the Eiffel Tower reopened today so we thought we should come," explains t he at AFP.
And even some Parisians have made the trip, like Sabine Beaufils, actress who admires the view from the first floor through her sunglasses in this warm where the temperature exceeds 30 ° celsius.
"Are you okay? You tell us if you want us to slow down," a girl asks her mother between the ground floor and the first floor. "It's okay, it would be easier if it weren't so hot," replies the woman, taking a breath and fanning herself.
"It's great! I haven't been here for a long time. Parisians don't come much, but it's because of the queues. There, no queues, nothing! It's extraordinary," she says. with a big smile while taking some pictures.
With 7 million visitors a year, according to its managers, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most visited monuments in the world. During the shutdown, it continued to flicker for five minutes at the start of each night.
© 2020 AFP