Final turn for Paris ferris wheel
PARIS, France -- Work has started on dismantling Paris's giant ferris wheel after its owner agreed to drop his fight for another year on the Place de la Concorde square.
The 60-metre (190-foot) high Millennium Wheel has for the last few days been attracting scores of tourists and Parisians eager to enjoy for the last time panoramic views over the French capital.
Owner Marcel Campion, who faced fines of 15,000 euros ($13,400) a day after losing a court battle with authorities, said last week he would dismantle the wheel on Monday after the mayor told him the wheel would stay in Paris.
"We had a big party to mark the last weekend, with a band, jugglers, clowns and candy floss. Lots of people came and were sad to see the wheel go, but now it is time to turn the page," Campion told Reuters.
Dismantling the wheel, which was erected at the bottom of the Champs Elysees avenue in 1999 as part of the French capital's millennium celebrations, will take 20 people two to three weeks.
Heavy-lifting will start on Friday when a crane will remove the wheel. Until then, work is limited to dismantling the light and sound system, and the 42 free-swinging cabins, Campion said. What happens then remains uncertain.
Campion and city authorities are due to hold more talks this week about finding another site in one of the city's many parks, but if the two sides cannot agree, the mayor has suggested Paris may buy the wheel.
Campion has said his selling price was 20 million French francs ($2.7 million).
"Starting this week, we are holding discussions for a possible purchase of the Ferris wheel. I am in favour of it staying in Paris," Mayor Bertrand Delanoe told France-2 television on Monday.
Last week, hundreds of fairground workers rallied to support Campion in his bid for another year on the prime site, saying city hall had not suggested a suitable alternative.
However, city officials said enough was enough, after having already granted Campion an extension for 2001.
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