Work begins on wrapping Arc de Triomphe for Christo artwork

Operation combining art and engineering on a massive scale fulfils dream of late artist couple

Shortly after the sun rose over central Paris, the first of the orange-clad rope technicians hopped over the top of the Arc de Triomphe and began to abseil down the landmark unrolling a swathe of silvery blue fabric that shimmered in the early light.

Someone clapped as the first abseiler went over the top – 50 metres from the ground – but most in the crowd of onlookers just held their breath. It was a slow and meticulous operation, requiring them to stop make adjustments to the folds in the material every few metres while avoiding touching the arch itself.

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