Snowy Paris gets raves from tourists even with Eiffel closed

AP

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PARIS (AP) Snow and freezing rain pummeled parts of France on Friday, shutting down the Eiffel Tower but covering Paris in a gorgeous coat of white.

The Eiffel Tower, France's most-visited monument, was closed all day Friday and was staying closed Saturday "to ensure the security of visitors," the company that manages the 19th-century landmark said.

Workers with hand shovels were carefully clearing snow from the monument's intricate ironwork and de-icing stairs and platforms. The company said they can't use salt because it could corrode the Eiffel Tower's metal and damage its heavily used elevators.

Heavy snowfall earlier this week trapped hundreds of drivers in cars and caused the worst-ever traffic jams in the Paris region. On Friday city authorities asked drivers to stay away.

Yet Friday's snowfall in the capital was a bit less dramatic and gave way to some fun. Snowboarders glided down the hills of the city's Montmartre neighborhood as tourists gaped.

"It looks awesome," said James Geisler, 23, from Davenport, Iowa. "This is my first time in Paris. We planned this trip a while ago and we didn't know there was going to be this much snow, but it's beautiful."

More snow was forecast and authorities warned of dangerous conditions in about one-fourth of the country. But French police, citing improved conditions, on Friday evening lifted the dayslong ban on big rig trucks in the Paris region.

"I have been here before in summer, but I have to say that I like it lot more like this, because it looks like a fairy tale, like a snow paradise," said Margareta Eurlings, a 21-year-old tourist from Belgium.

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Oleg Cetinic in Paris contributed to this report.

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