On the occasion of our special morning show broadcast from the Eiffel Tower, Europe 1 makes you discover some secrets of the Iron Lady little known to the general public.
Dive into the bowels of the elevators, behind the scenes in the areas reserved for staff and into a mysterious bunker ...
You may be familiar with the incredible view from its third floor, have probably already strolled around its square, been surprised by the speed of its elevators (two meters per second!).
Perhaps you even took the 1,665 steps that separate us from its summit (just for the East pillar).
But do you really know all the secrets of the Eiffel Tower?
On the occasion of our special morning Wednesday September 16 from the 1st floor of the Iron Lady, we plunged into her bowels, unknown to the general public.
Follow the guide for a visit underground, at the foot of the elevators and in a mysterious bunker ...
>> Six months after the start of the Covid-19 crisis, Europe 1 is gaining height and is interested in the next four months which promise to be decisive for France: economic and ecological recovery, tourism but also the fight against epidemic.
Matthieu Belliard, accompanied by his columnists and editorial writers from the resort, is offering a special morning session this Wednesday from the Eiffel Tower, a major French and global tourism hub and symbol of the country's attractiveness, to better decipher and understand what is happening draw.
When the heart of the elevators of the Eiffel Tower beats
We start the visit under the elevator on the East pillar, in a decor worthy of Jules Verne or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Under the feet of tourists, a world of steel, mechanics, cables, pipes and cylinders is revealed.
But also a festival of colors:
This is the heart of the elevator and its veins.
The east pillar elevator is the last of the Eiffel Tower's five to still operate with an old mechanism, close to that of 1899. The driving force behind the elevator is water.
By means of a valve - "the tap" according to the technicians - the water is sent at very high pressure in the pipes.
A "piston-carrier" trolley, connected by cables to the elevator, then starts to move thanks to this pressure.
And when it moves, the elevator goes up (or down), huge 190-ton cylinders acting as a counterweight (see the photo above for the cylinders).
The instrument panel, which is used to measure the water pressure:
Beyond the mechanism, the place bears witness to a long history.
In these iron entrails, one can imagine the workers of the beginning of the 20th century going to seek their bolts in one of the old green lockers lining the wall near the service staircase, or valiantly carrying the immense (and heavy, we tested!) keys still hanging on the sides of the old "grease guns".
Until the 1980s, an "elevator driver", located under the cabin outside, had to measure the water pressure using a hand wheel.
Since then, the mechanism has been modernized and is now managed by an automatic device, under the watchful eye of technicians:
The Eiffel Tower has four other elevators.
At the North pillars (under construction) and South, everything runs on electricity.
And until 2008, the elevator to the West pillar also worked "old-fashioned".
But heat engines have come to replace "the tap" and its pipes.
A small world apart for the 800 employees of the Eiffel Tower
The staff entrance is under the South pillar.
Maintenance, reception, cleaning, trade, catering ... In total, the Iron Lady employs 800 people, including 350 (of 30 nationalities!) Directly employed by the Company operating the Eiffel Tower, SETE.
Once the entrance and its two security gates have passed, they have access to the "freight elevator" which, in addition to allowing them to work on all floors, gives them access to a unique view of the Champs-de-Marne. -March.
A mysterious bunker under the Champs de Mars
And we end the visit with an almost unknown, discreet, even hidden place.
Almost at the entrance to the Champs-de-Mars, once the forecourt of the Eiffel Tower behind us, is a strange "bunker" - as those who know of its existence call it - buried in the ground, the cantonment of its true name, connected to the south pillar of the Tower by a tunnel running under the alleys of the Champ de Mars.
Today, there is not much to see there, except a few inscriptions on the main dates of the place.
But the "bunker" is loaded with history.
From the dawn of the 20th century until the year 2000, it played the role of the Eiffel Tower's Wireless Telegraphy (TSF) station.
In the early 1900s, the Iron Lady would indeed become a pioneer of radio transmission.
From this "bunker", connected by cable to the Tower, a powerful signal left to the top, creating a transmitter whose range and transmission quality have continued to increase over the years.
In today's premises, one has to imagine huge cabinets and transmission bays, large power plants producing chilled water, which were used for their cooling, and a generator to ensure the operation of all in the event of power cuts.
For several years, the army used the area the most to establish long-distance communications: it was from here that information was transmitted to taxis in the Marne, in 1914, among others.
Why was it buried?
"We can conjecture two reasons. On the one hand, there had to be space for the installations, which would have hindered access to the Tower. And then when there are military questions, of strategy, often, we try not to not be seen, "explains to Europe 1 Stéphane Roussin, project director at the Eiffel Tower.
The tunnel which was used to pass the cables:
Over the years, the transmission station will evolve towards civilian use, accompanying developments in radio, then TV.
On June 2, 1953, thanks to the tower transmitter and its "bunker", French television showed, live and to all of France, the celebrations of the coronation of the Queen of England.
In 1985 the station, requiring less space and new technology, was installed at the level of the south pillar, the "bunker" only serving as a rescue station in case of problems.
And since 2000, there are no longer "only" offices, storage spaces for employees or unpacking and preparation for restaurants with starred chefs.
If it is set back from History with a capital "H", the "bunker" remains essential for the proper functioning of the Iron Lady.
And, therefore, to his fame.
EVENT - Europe Morning from the Eiffel Tower this Wednesday:
EVENT - Europe Morning from the Eiffel Tower this Wednesday: