PARIS:It was inaugurated 25 years ago to much pomp on the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution, but Margaret Thatcher no doubt remembered it more as the place where she got stuck in the toilets.
Today, the gigantic Grande Arche on the outskirts of Paris is in a sorry state — the prized Carrara marble covering parts of the structure is worn down, businesses snub its cramped office space and the entire building is now closed to the public for security reasons.
This 20th-century version of the French capital’s Arc de Triomphe — a glass and marble cube so big it could house Notre-Dame Cathedral — stands in the business district of La Defense outside Paris at the end of a long, straight axis that begins at the Louvre museum and takes in the Champs-Elysees.
Danish architect Johan Otto Von Spreckelsen conceived the project, but an illness forced him to hand over the reins in 1986 to France’s Paul Andreu.
The building was inaugurated on July 14, 1989, with a three-day G7 summit attended by top leaders from around the world including Thatcher.
Britain’s then-prime minister “no doubt long remembered her visit,” said an official who was present on that day, who asked to remain anonymous.
“A door handle broke and she got stuck in the toilets. Her bodyguards were forced to break down the door.”
Source : AFP