Eiffel Tower repainting: Will the Iron Lady be red again?

Red, ochre and yellow might shine over La Seine again as the Eiffel Tower is about to undergo a huge makeover

The majestic view of Paris is about to get disrupted, as its very symbol, the Eiffel Tower, will go through a massive repainting.

Starting in October 2018, the process will last three years and, quite possibly, will bring back the original colours from the time of the tower’s construction.

The first paint used on the Eiffel tower was red becaus of it's ability to resist corrosion — Shutterstock makeover repainting red
The first paint used on the Eiffel tower was red because of its ability to resist corrosion — Shutterstock

Black and white photographs from the end of the 19th century – when the monument rose over la Seine for the World’s Fair – can be slightly misleading because they don’t give the true picture of its former facade. But the majestic metal monument used to look different during the first years of its existence.

It was the Iron Lady’s main architect, Gustave Eiffel, who decided to paint the tower in red when construction was coming to an end in 1889. The reason was not that he rather liked the colour, but because of the paint’s ability to resist corrosion.

Four years later, the tower was painted in a new shade, this time ochre – a light shade of orange. In 1899 it was again redecorated with a yellow blending into orange at the base, and clear yellow on top.

Between the years 1907 and 1954 the facade changed again into yellow-brown and in 1968 it became a red-brown, French paper Le Parisien says. The brown Tour Eiffel as we know it today was adopted a few years later.

Even though nothing has been decided yet, a discussion of returning the Eiffel Tower’s former colour has emerged.  

“In the same way as we do it with the restoration of ancient paintings, we will rediscover and revive the old colours. This will give us some space to reflect whether to add nuances or not to the current hue,” a heritage specialist told Le Parisien.

Giving the 10,000-tonne structure a fresh lick will require 60 tonnes of paint. Experts will analyse the different layers of paint deposited over 129 years in order to choose the final colour.