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In 1889, upon completion of Paris’ most spectacular iron tower, Gustave Eiffel lay down his final metal lattice and announced to the world, “that’s it folks, the Eiffel Tower is complete” (Or the French, much better sounding equivalent). But little did the world know that Gustave was concealing a secret. Complete, yes - complete with an apartment on the third and final floor, which Gustave had built for himself and neglected to tell the press.
A secret hideaway
Approximately 1000 feet above the ground, Monsieur Eiffel was landlord to the city’s finest apartment. It wasn’t grand and it certainly wasn’t flash, but it boasted views over the city that even the most affluent Parisians could only dream about.
And Gustave allowed almost no one to visit.
Entrée interdite - unless you bring gifts
Save for a few elite scientists and his best pal, Thomas Edison (and Gustave gained a span dangled new phonograph machine just for letting Edison in), Eiffel could not be persuaded. Not for money nor riches or the finest French cuisine on the Champs-Élysées, no one but Gustave had a key - much to the annoyance and envy of every Parisian in the city.
Not large, the apartment is small, or ‘bijou’ for want of a better word. Gustave decorated his pocket penthouse with paisley wallpaper, wooden furniture and a grand piano, as well as a small science lab to tinker away in – and impress Mr Edison no doubt. It was filled with the most high tech equipment of its time; light bulbs and paper clips and the like.
The Eiffel Tower today
Over a century later and presumably to the immense disgust of Gustave, the French authorities have opened the space as part of the overall Eiffel Tower experience. And to this very day much of the furnishings remain exactly the same. Discover soft chintzes and iron arches, time-worn oil paintings and the faint whiff of musk, Cognac and cigars. The third floor is finally open to the public and of course, so is one of the world’s most enchanting panoramas.
Gustave must be turning in his grave.
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