The Mystery Behind the Chimney of the Eiffel Tower

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Only a very small number of Parisians and tourists know of the existence of what looks like a folly at the feet of the Iron Lady. In fact the Chimney of the Eiffel Tower is so hidden in the leafy gardens that you’d easily miss it. In this post I’m revealing when it was built and what is its purpose.

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Spotting the Mysterious Chimney of the Eiffel Tower

Isn’t it surprising that despite being the most visited monument in Europe, the Eiffel Tower still keeps some secrets from us? The Chimney of the Eiffel Tower is one of it.

To find it, you need to walk along Allée des Refuzniks, a lane heading to a pond between the West and South piers of the Eiffel Tower. But you won’t have to walk that far. Actually the chimney will stand not far from the West pier by the Exit 1 (see the map below).

The gardens of the Eiffel Tower © French Moments

By the Eiffel Tower © French Moments

Like me, you may need to retrace your steps and walk around to spot it! Told you it was a well-hidden treasure 😉

Obviously you’ll see it better in Winter (when the trees are leafless) than in Summer…

Also you can also spot it from the three platforms of the Eiffel Tower… but you need to know where the west pier is located! (in fact, it’s the one looking towards the River Seine and the Bir-Hakeim bridge). Here’s a picture I took from the top platform of the Eiffel Tower. Can you see the chimney emerging from the trees? Honestly at the time I did not it was there too…

View from the top of the monument © French Moments

Can you see the Chimney from the top platform of the tower? © French Moments

When you manage to find it at last, the crenelated round structure resemble a medieval turret.

When was the chimney built?

Interestingly the turret is older than the Eiffel Tower! The red-brick structure was built in 1887 when the foundations of the tower were being laid.

Chimney of the Eiffel Tower © French Moments

The Chimney of the Eiffel Tower © French Moments

For which purpose was the chimney built?

The tower is in fact a smoking factory chimney. It’s the only vestige of the tower’s enormous building site.

The Eiffel Tower may have been relatively light at its early days (7,300 tons), however it needed a solid foundation.

  • The excavations at the site started on the 28th January 1887.
  • The assembly of the metal part began five months later, on the 1st July 1887.
  • Between 150 and 300 workers were on the construction site daily.
  • After 2 years, 2 months and 5 days, the tower was completed on the 31st March 1889, just in time for the World’s Fair of 1889 and the centenary of the French Revolution.

(More info on the construction of the Eiffel Tower)

But let’s come back to our industrial chimney!

In the Champ de Mars © French Moments

By the Eiffel Tower and its chimney © French Moments

What was it needed for?

The engine room occupied the south pier. It fed the construction site with energy, in particular the lifts that served to pull up the materials to the tower’s platforms.

The steam-engines generated so much smoke that an evacuation system was put in place. The steam was drawn through a ventilation duct that led to our present-day chimney.

And that’s it! The mystery is now revealed!

Chimney of the Eiffel Tower © French Moments

The top of the chimney © French Moments

And what about the Chimney today?

Well, the interesting part is that the chimney is still in use today!

It is used occasionally to evacuate the smoke produced by the power generators.


Where to find the Chimney of the Eiffel Tower?

The hidden chimney is located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, between the West pillar of the Eiffel tower and the Allée des Refuzniks.

Closest métro stations: Bir Hakeim (line 6), Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel (RER C).

Read more about the Eiffel Tower on our blogs:

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The hidden Chimney of the Eiffel Tower © French Moments


 

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management.

2 Comments

  1. This is so cool, I love these hidden details. I’ve checked out the Eiffel Tower a number of times, but have never seen or noticed the chimney. Next time I’ll be looking for it. Thanks for sharing this!

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