The Tour Saint Jacques (Saint James Tower) stands in the middle of Paris, on the Rue de Rivoli, right near City Hall. The "flamboyant gothic" style tower was originally the steeple of a church built in the early 16th century. During the Revolution, the church was taken apart, but the steeple stayed. It was turned into a landmark tower during the urban renewal of the 1850s. But time and pollution have taken its toll. Since 2000 the tower has been covered in a white tarp and scaffolding, because chunks of it were falling off.
In May 2007 the upper portion was revealed: renovated and gleaming. You can see gargoyles staring down, and sort of make out the intricate details. The tower will be under renovation through 2009, as stone carvers, sculptors and restorers work on cleaning and preserving the intricate carvings on the exterior. It's nearly impossible to see the details from the ground. But on the scaffolding, up close, you see dragons, winding vines and of course statues of saints and angels.
This piece aired September 2, 2007 on RFI
Producer: Sarah Elzas
Recorded in Paris, France