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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 10:12 GMT
Paris in a spin over big wheel
La Grand Roue
The wheel is a popular tourist attraction
Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe is taking legal action to get the city's largest Ferris wheel removed from its prime location on the Place de la Concorde.

The owner of the wheel, Marcel Campion, and Mr Delanoe are locked in battle over the future site of the big wheel, originally erected for the city's millennium celebrations in 1999.

Too bad if the Place de la Concorde becomes the Place of Discord

Marcel Campion

Mr Campion is pressing for a city-centre location, while the mayor wants to banish it to the suburbs.

The row has triggered a debate in France about whether the 60-metre wheel, with its 50,000 lights, is an eyesore or a landmark the city should take pride in.

Mr Delanoe has described it as a blight on the landscape and had ordered it to be removed by Monday - but Mr Campion refuses to touch it until agreement on the new location has been reached.


"You have publicly announced your intention to maintain (the wheel's) presence in this place, in complete illegality," Mr Delanoe said in a letter to Mr Campion, announcing the launch of legal action.

The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe
Delanoe: Patience at an end
Mr Campion says many thousands of people - including some French celebrities - have signed a petition for the wheel to stay one more year.

"I have got the backing of 35,000 fairground workers, so too bad if the Place de la Concorde becomes the Place of Discord," he says.

He also says that 20% of the wheel's profits go to charity - and challenges politicians to follow his example.

On Monday presidential candidate Alain Madelin was quoted in Le Figaro newspaper saying that the wheel was "part of the heritage of Paris, on the same level as the Eiffel Tower".


The wheel was originally intended to be dismantled at the end of 2000.

But the city's previous mayor, Jean Tiberi, said it could stay one more year until 31 December 2001, and that a permanent site would be found in Paris.

The new mayor, Mr Delanoe, later agreed to stretch the deadline to 7 January.

Mr Delanoe has proposed a new site in the working class suburb of Aubervilliers, or the new commercial area at Bercy.

"The law must be respected. I have gone as far as I can in terms of being conciliatory and generous," the mayor has said.

Mr Campion wants his wheel to be placed near prestigious landmarks, such as the Trocadero near the Eiffel Tower or the Jardin du Luxembourg.

The BBC's James Coomarasamy in Paris
"The big wheel is now a familiar sight on the skyline"
See also:

01 Jan 00 | Europe
Pageantry on the Champs Elysees
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