‘French Spider-Man’ climbs Paris tower for Notre-Dame

Veteran free-climbing specialist Alain Robert scrambled up the Engie tower in Paris

A man known as “the French Spider-Man” has climbed a skyscraper in the Paris business district of La Défense, to raise awareness of a fundraising scheme for the cathedral Notre-Dame-de-Paris.

Alain Robert, who is 56 and known as a “veteran free-climbing specialist”, scrambled up the Engie (T1) tower using only his bare hands, without ropes. The tower is 185 metres tall, and has 37 storeys.

Mr Robert said he took on the stunt to “save Notre-Dame-de-Paris”. The famous cathedral is currently fundraising €150 million to help pay for crucial restoration work.

Mr Robert’s climb took 45 minutes, and attracted a small crowd. He was arrested at the tower’s summit at 11h45, and taken into local custody in Courbevoie (Hauts-de-Seine), allegedly for “endangering the lives of others” and “taking a deliberate lack of care”.

The climber also managed to pose for photos to ask people to donate to the fund.

Funding association La Société des Amis de Notre-Dame-de-Paris confirmed the amount it was hoping to raise, but said it had neither authorised nor been aware of Mr Robert’s plans before the climb.

André Finot, communications manager at the association, said: “Alain Robert did not contact us. We did not ask him to do anything.”

He added: “We obviously do not encourage this kind of exploit.” Yet, he admitted that “this publicity stunt could help us”.

The climber was seeking to raise awareness of a fundraising drive for Notre-Dame-de-Paris (Bretwa / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Mr Robert has been free-climbing tall buildings since 1994, and since been given the nickname “the French Spider-Man (“le Spider-Man Français” or "l'homme-araignée”). In January this year, he was arrested after having climbed one of the tallest towers in the Philippines, the 47-storey GT Tower.

In June, he planned to climb the world’s fifth-tallest tower in Seoul, South Korea, but was forced to abandon the attempt after being stopped by security guards.

The Notre-Dame stunt was not his first climb in La Défense; in 2016, he successfully scaled the 179-metre, 48-storey “Total tower” in Place Jean Millier, which is the fifth-tallest tower in Paris.

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