A Piece of the Eiffel Tower's Original Staircase Is Going Up for Auction

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (left) stands on the Eiffel Tower staircase in this 1889 photo.
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (left) stands on the Eiffel Tower staircase in this 1889 photo.
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Snapping a photo of the Eiffel Tower at night is a must for tourists visiting Paris (even if it is technically illegal), but if you want a little something extra to remember the historic landmark by, why not take a piece of it home with you? As CNN reports, a section of la Tour Eiffel’s original staircase is being sold today by French auction house Artcurial.

The artifact will likely set you back some $40,0000 to $60,000 according to early estimates, but then again, many would consider it a priceless piece of history. The 25-step spiral staircase stands at about 13 feet tall and was part of the stairway that connected the second and third levels of the tower, which was built by French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Paris Exposition. The stairway remained in place until 1983, when it was replaced by elevators.

Considering that the Eiffel Tower stands 1063 feet tall (including the antenna on top) and has a total of 1710 steps (visitors can only climb the roughly 700 steps leading to the first and second platforms), the spiral staircase is a relatively small part of the overall structure. Nonetheless, its architectural and historical significance have made it a valuable artifact. The original staircase was divided into 24 sections, some of which were sent off to different institutions.

A couple sections of the staircase are on view at two Paris museums—the Musée d'Orsay and the Science and Industry Museum—while another piece can be found near the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

Other pieces were auctioned off to private collectors. In 2013, a section of staircase measuring more than 11 feet tall was snapped up for $249,000, and in 2016 another piece sold for $593,000—which makes the estimates on the current piece seem like a steal. 

[h/t CNN]

Notre-Dame's Rooftop Bees Survived the Historic Fire

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Following the fire that tore through Notre-Dame in Paris on April 15, fire officials shared that the church's bell towers, stone facade, and many of its precious artifacts had escaped destruction. But the building's centuries-old features weren't the only things threatened by the blaze: The three beehives on the roof of the cathedral were also at risk. Now, CNN reports that the bees of Notre-Dame and their homes have survived the historic fire.

Notre-Dame's beehives are a relatively recent addition to the site: They were placed on the first-floor rooftop over the sacristy and beneath one of the rose windows in 2013. Nicolas Geant, the church's beekeeper, has been in charge of caring for the roughly 180,000 Buckfast bees that make honey used to feed the hungry.

Most people weren't thinking of bees as they watched Notre-Dame burn, but when the fire was put out, Geant immediately searched drone photographs for the hives. While the cathedral's wooden roof and spire were gone, the beehives remained, though there was no way of knowing if the bees had survived without having someone check in person. Geant has since talked to Notre-Dame's spokesperson and learned that bees are flying in and out of the hives, which means that at least some of them are alive.

Because the beehives were kept in a section 100 feet below the main roof where the fire was blazing, they didn't meet the same fate as the church's other wooden structures. The hives were likely polluted with smoke, but this wouldn't have hurt the insects: Bees don't have lungs, so smoke calms them rather than suffocates them.

Notre-Dame's bees may have survived to buzz another day, but some parts of the building weren't so lucky. France has vowed to rebuild it, with over $1 billion donated toward the cause so far.

[h/t CNN]

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame Is the Best-Selling Book in France Right Now

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Thanks to current events, Victor Hugo's 188-year-old book The Hunchback of Notre-Dame has ascended the bestseller list in France. The novel follows a hunchback named Quasimodo who is living in the cathedral's bell tower in Paris during the 15th century. Now, following the fire that destroyed parts of Notre-Dame on Monday, April 15, readers in France are rushing to buy a copy, The Guardian reports.

Investigators aren't sure how the Notre-Dame fire started, but they suspect it resulted from an accident rather than arson or terrorism. The blaze consumed the structure's 800-year-old roof and iconic spire but left the stone facade, bell towers, and south rose window intact. France is already planning to rebuild the church, and so far $1 billion has been raised for the cause.

The Notre-Dame cathedral may not have become the beloved landmark it is today if wasn't for Victor Hugo. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame came out at a time when the cathedral was in disrepair, and by writing his book, Hugo hoped to revive interest in the historic piece of architecture. He did just that: In reaction to the novel's success, Notre-Dame underwent a massive restoration that lasted a quarter of a century. Many new elements were added, including that spire that was lost on Monday.

This week, the French people are returning to the book that's tied so deeply to Notre-Dame's reputation. On April 17, different editions of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame occupied the first, third, fifth, seventh, and eighth positions of the bestseller list of Amazon France. A book detailing the history of the Gothic cathedral claimed the sixth slot.

[h/t The Guardian]

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