Paris (AFP) – The soaring Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Elysees in Paris will reopen Wednesday after being covered in graffiti and ransacked during anti-government protests which rocked the capital on December 1, the French monuments commission said.
The arc, under which lies the tomb of the unknown soldier, commemorating France’s war dead, has been a focal point of the “yellow vest” rallies against fuel tax increases and the cost of living which began on November 17.
But the demonstrations degenerated into daylong clashes with police early this month, with protesters spray-painting the arc with slogans such as “the yellow vests will win.”
The protesters later managed to break into the monument where they smashed sculptures and display cases in an underground gallery and snatched commemorative medals and other items.
They also snuffed out the eternal flame burning on the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Some protesters were also seen on the top of the landmark building which offers panoramic views of the capital.
“All the networks and equipment essential for the security and proper functioning of the monument will have been restored and repaired,” the commission said in a statement Tuesday.
“Some furniture, notably in the gift shop and library, have been temporarily repaired while awaiting new installations,” it added.
It said the damage was estimated at several hundred thousands of euros (dollars).
Thirteen people were charged last week over the looting and destruction and investigations are continuing to identify other suspects.