There’s far more than just the Eiffel Tower. Paris and its surroundings boast many works by Gustave Eiffel.
To celebrate the release in cinemas of the film Eiffel by Martin Bourboulon, on 13 October 2021, Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau unveils a visitor trail in the footsteps of the architect Gustave Eiffel featuring locations in which the film was shot in the French capital. This monumental film interweaves the story of the construction of the Eiffel Tower and the great love story between the engineer Gustave Eiffel, played by Romain Duris, and Adrienne Bourgès played by Emma Mackey. After finishing his work on the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel was at the peak of his career. The government wanted him to build a spectacular structure for the Exposition Universelle of 1889, but Eiffel was only interested in the Paris metro. Everything changed after a chance meeting with his childhood sweetheart. Their forbidden love inspired him to change the skyline of Paris for ever.
A Dijon native, the renowned French engineer and architect Gustave Eiffel significantly contributed to democratizing the use of metallic structures in modern architecture. From the mid-19th century onwards, his railway stations, bridges and buildings began to be seen around the world because of the ease with which they could be assembled and transported to create architectural splendours. Besides the iconic Eiffel Tower, Paris and its surroundings boast a great number of works that Gustave Eiffel either contributed to building or inspired.
The Printemps Haussmann, which was rebuilt by Paul Sédille in 1882 after a fire, was one of the first public buildings in Paris to display its metallic structure, including on its façade. Iron had become a ‘noble’ material and a key decorative element, particularly on beams and staircases. For the first time, the founder of Printemps, Jules Jaluzot, negotiated exclusive rights to the sale of merchandise such as Eiffel Tower medals, which were only sold in his department store during the 1889 Universal Exposition.
Part restaurant, part social club and part coworking space, Le Shack is located in the former premises of the Calmann-Lévy printing works in the heart of the Golden Triangle. Gustave Eiffel was behind the creation, in 1872, of the metallic structure of this light-filled building, which has preserved all its original charm and authenticity.
Few Parisiens know that the Pont des Buttes-Chaumont park - a metal bridge in a green colour echoing the colour of the park’s trees - is a work by Gustave Eiffel. This red brick and metal structure links the Porte Secrétan to the Butte Puebla and Butte Fessart, and was a former road bridge.
In 1881, at the request of the sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, Gustave Eiffel took over from Viollet-le-Duc to create the iron framework of the Statue of Liberty. The first-ever monument to be made up of sections that could be disassembled, the metallic structure was light and supple. 80 tons of copper plates making up the skin of the statue were affixed to the structure. It was assembled in Paris and then dismantled to be sent to the United States. The Musée des Arts et Métiers kept a replica of the statue – gifted to the United States in the summer of 2021 – and a wood, plaster and iron model 1/16th the size of the statue. The museum also has a collection of photographs and objects related to the Statue of Liberty donated by Bartholdi’s widow in the early 20th century.
The department store La Samaritaine Pont Neuf founded in 1870 by Ernest Cognacq and Marie-Louise Jaÿ is a masterpiece combining the art nouveau and art deco styles, its metallic architecture light-filled and airy. The architect Frantz Jourdain was keen to use new techniques. He was fascinated by Gustave Eiffel’s machines and architecture, and so it was only natural for him to seize on the idea of a decorative and clearly visible metallic structure, which was very different from anything that could be seen at the time. The structure and the wrought iron staircases were built by Gustave Eiffel.
The oldest cabaret in Paris, this legendary venue built in Napoleon’s time was destroyed in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 and left in ruins for 17 years. In the run-up to the 1889 Universal Exposition celebrating the centenary of the Revolution, Gustave Eiffel rebuilt the theatre, which became known as the Paradis Latin. He placed metallic columns on the underground remains of the Philippe Auguste wall which once circled the city. The ceiling height is worthy of a cathedral, enabling the cabaret to put on some unforgettable aerial shows.
A blend of traditional architecture and technical innovation, Paris’s fashion museum the Palais Galliera, which was built in 1894, has a metal framework by Eiffel underneath its cut stone. This ‘Beaux-Arts’ style Renaissance-inspired monument was very technologically advanced for its time. Built by Gustave Eiffel’s company the Compagnie des Etablissements Eiffel, the staircase railings, windows and the railings on the Square Brignole-Galliera came from the same workshop as the famous Eiffel Tower.
Besides the iconic Tower, Gustave Eiffel left several marks on the Champ de Mars over the years. In order to save his tower from its planned destruction shortly after the Universal Exposition, Gustave Eiffel came up with the idea of using it for scientific purposes. In 1909, he installed a wind tunnel at the foot of the tower to carry out tests simulating the effect of the wind on planes and cars. The Eiffel aerodynamic wind tunnel was moved to Auteil in 1912 and is still in use today. A short distance away, at the foot of the northern pillar of the Eiffel Tower, you will see a gilded bronze bust of Gustave Eiffel by the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle.
The Eiffel Tower, the monument that symbolizes Paris for people around the world, was built for the 1889 Universal Exposition by Gustave Eiffel. 312 metres high (without the television mast), it was the tallest tower in the world at the time, and its innovative architecture sparked a great deal of interest. It was built in two years, two months and five days – nothing short of a technical feat. The parts were made to measure in the town of Levallois Perret and could easily be assembled on site. Initially destined to be destroyed after 20 years, the tower was saved as a result of several scientific experiments. Gustave Eiffel installed an antenna on top for wireless broadcasting, which was used a lot during the First World War. The Eiffel Tower is now one of the most visited monuments in the world.
Gustave Eiffel is closely linked to Levallois Perret. He set up the workshops of his company Gustave Eiffel & Cie there shortly after the creation of the municipality in the 19th century. The workshops employed more than 400 workers and all the parts of the Eiffel Tower were made there. The workshops no longer exist but you can visit the place where they were located, now known as Square Gustave Eiffel, and admire the murals and the trompe l’oeil designs around the park showing the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and the Garabit viaduct. Levallois-Perret was the first town to name a street ‘Gustave Eiffel’ in the engineer’s lifetime. He was a town councillor for 12 years, and is buried in the cemetery on Rue Baudin in a tomb facing his tower.
The Passerelle de l’Avre footbridge, initially an aqueduct bridge, was built in 1891 by 250 workers over 15 months at the request of the City of Paris. A continuation of the Avre aqueduct, it carries water from the Avre River to Paris. Now used entirely by pedestrians and cyclists and a prime vantage point from which to admire the Eiffel Tower, it is a portion of the GR1 hiking route connecting the Bois de Boulogne to the Domaine national de Saint Cloud.
Pick up the leaflet featuring the walk and the filming locations