‘French Spiderman’ climbs Paris skyscraper harness-free

French climber Alain Robert, lower right, managed to scale the same skyscraper in La Defense business district in 2016. (AFP)
Updated 25 March 2019

‘French Spiderman’ climbs Paris skyscraper harness-free

  • Climb was done to help to raise funds for the renovation of Notre-Dame cathedral
  • Robert has climbed more than 100 structures including the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and Burj al Khalifa in Dubai

PARIS: Dubbed the “French Spiderman,” Alain Robert scaled a skyscraper in Paris on Friday without a harness to raise funds for the renovation of Notre-Dame cathedral.
Television images showed the 56-year-old using horizontal struts running up the Engie headquarters’ curved facade and a protruding structure going top-to-bottom of the 185-meter glass-fronted building in La Defense business district
Robert halted regularly to chalk his hands.
He was arrested shortly after completing the climb.
“Because there’s no money left in the government coffers, the cathedral is falling into disrepair,” he said ahead of the climb. His sponsors were writing a cheque of €5,000 ($5,650) to help finance the renovations, he added.
During the stunt, bystanders at the bottom pointed smartphones toward clear blue skies as wispy clouds raced overheard in blustery winds.
Robert has climbed more than 100 structures including the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and Burj al Khalifa in Dubai, as well as the same tower in Paris in 2016.
The Archbishop of Paris is on a drive to raise more than €100 million to save Notre-Dame’s crumbling gargoyles and gothic arches.


‘King of the road’ rules again as Philippines eases coronavirus lockdown

Updated 03 July 2020

‘King of the road’ rules again as Philippines eases coronavirus lockdown

  • Just 6,000 jeepneys back in business, operating at half capacity under strict social distancing rules
  • First jeepneys were surplus army jeeps left behind by the US military after World War Two

MANILA: Thousands of jeepneys, flamboyantly decorated jeeps that serve as cheap public transport across the Philippines, were back on the streets of Manila on Friday, bringing relief to companies and commuters who have struggled with coronavirus curbs.
Dubbed “the king of the road,” an estimated 55,000 of these large, multi-colored trucks, used to crawl through Manila’s gridlocked roads on a typical day before being forced to a halt 15 weeks ago when the government imposed a coronavirus lockdown.
Just 6,000 were back in business on Friday, operating at half capacity under strict social distancing rules. In pre-pandemic times, jeepneys routinely carried up to 15 passengers who sat knee-to-knee on twin benches in the windowless vehicles, choked by exhaust fumes.
“I’m very happy we are now back on the road. This is our only source of income,” said driver Celo Cabangon, whose truck is decorated with Japanese and Philippine flags, Bible verses and the logo of US sci-fi film “Transformers.”
Under the new rules, passengers must also undergo temperature checks before boarding and shield themselves from one another with face masks and plastic sheets. The Philippines has recorded 40,000 coronavirus cases, and 1,280 deaths.
Commuter Alejandra Carable welcomed the jeepney’s return. “Our expenses are too much without jeepneys. We can save much more now that the jeepneys are back.”
A jeepney fare is typically about 9 pesos ($0.18), cheaper than trains, taxis or motorized tricycles, which were allowed back on the road a month ago when authorities started easing one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns.
A phased return to work has been chaotic without jeepneys, with commuters stranded and some companies unable to provide sufficient private transport.
The first jeepneys were surplus army jeeps left behind by the US military after World War Two. Most are festooned with religious slogans or horoscope signs and are in poor shape.