Flag down: A protester holds a French national flag as he walks through tear gas smoke past the Arc de Triomphe on the Place de l’Etoile in Paris during clashes between Gilet Jaunes (Yellow Vest) protesters and riot police on the 18th consecutive Saturday of demonstrations called by the Yellow Vest movement. (AFP/Alain Jocard)
The Arc de Triomphe in Paris, which was ransacked during a "yellow vest" protest last year, will be entirely restored for next week's VE Day celebrations, the French government said Friday.
The monument, which contains the French tomb of the unknown soldier, was vandalized during an anti-government demonstration in December that ended in rioting and looting.
Culture Minister Franck Riester said 1.2 million euros ($1.3 million) was spent restoring damaged statues and equipment inside the landmark at the top of the Champs-Elysees.
As well as spraying its walls with graffiti and breaking equipment, rioters smashed artworks, including a 1930s copy of a famous sculpture of "The Marseillaise" by Francois Rude representing Victory, which was molded from the 19th-century original.
The mould of the 'Genie de la patrie', which was damaged by protestors on the sidelines of the 'yellow vest' (gilets jaunes) demonstrations on December 1, 2018, is seen in a gallery of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, on May 3, 2019, following renovation works. The Arc de Triomphe, ransacked and vandalised in December during a demonstration of the 'Yellow Vests', has been completely restored just in time for the May 8 ceremonies that mark the end of the Second World War in France, the French government announced on May 3. Martin BUREAU / AFP (AFP/Martin Bureau)
"The restoration has been done in only a few months, which is very fast," said Riester, while praising the work.
He said everything would be ready Wednesday when VE Day celebrations mark the 74th anniversary of Nazi Germany's surrender to the Allies on May 8, 1945.
The monument, which was built by Napoleon to commemorate his many military victories, reopened less than a fortnight after rioters broke into it on December 1, though some areas remained cordoned off.
Each year, more than 1.5 tourists visit the Arc de Triomphe, mostly to take in the view down the Champs-Elysees.
Bulgarian-born artist Christo last month announced that he had received permission to wrap the world-famous landmark next April in the signature style he developed with his late French wife Jeanne-Claude.