PARIS (AFP) - Visitors at the Eiffel Tower were left giddy Monday as the mayor unveiled a new glass floor on Paris's best-known landmark, offering millions of tourists another perspective on the world's most-visited city.
Anne Hidalgo cut the ribbon on the renovated first floor of the hugely popular monument, officially inaugurating the new attraction although tourists have been enjoying the view since last month.
From a vertiginous height of 57 metres, visitors look down through a solid glass panel, offering a dizzying sensation of walking on air.
The new floor aims to turn the formerly dowdy and draughty space into as big an attraction as the viewing platform near the top of the 325-metre tower.
"The glass is a little bit frightening, even though I know that it's strong," said 40-year-old Jerzy Wagner, from Warsaw, who was visiting Paris with his wife and two young children.
"I like the very top better, because you can see the view, but today it's very windy up there ... and (on) the first floor you feel safe, unlike the top floors," he added.
American tourist Andrew Kendall, 25, said the first floor gave visitors "a different perspective." "The glass floors were cool." Previously the first floor was the least visited part of the tower, but its operators hope tourists will now linger on their way down for more breathtaking views of Paris.
The 30-million-euro (S$48million) refit, which took two years, includes a display relating the life of the 125-year-old tower on seven screens, as well as a conference room.
The city of Paris, which holds a majority stake in the monument, charged architects Moatti-Riviere with creating a space that would show off Gustave Eiffel's impressive original ironwork and make it fully accessible for disabled visitors.
The tower attracts about seven million visitors a year, of which 87.5 percent are foreign tourists. About 12.5 percent come from France, followed by Americans (8.5 percent), Britons (7.1 percent), Italians (6.7 percent) and Germans (5.7 percent).