Imagine taking a road trip through China and suddenly finding yourself facing the Eiffel Tower. Stunned, you walk a few meters and come across an avenue with the face of the Champs-Élysées. Around it, there are several typical buildings of the 8th arrondissementas well as a park that has a lot to do with the Luxembourg Gardens.
No, you didn’t experience teleportation from Asia to Paris, but you accidentally arrived in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, which is home to a gigantic area called Tianducheng, built to be a replica of part of the French capital.
And the search for an imitation of the City of Light was no joke: here, China built a true urban center inspired by Paris, with dozens of blocks and the capacity to have thousands of residents.
Tianducheng’s structures are smaller than the French monuments that inspired them — and the distances between them are not the same as in the European metropolis.
Even so, they are works that can impress with their attempt at grandeur.
The Chinese Eiffel Tower, for example, is 108 meters high, against the more than 300 meters of the original structure — and, around it, there is landscaping that immediately refers to the lawn of the Champ de Mars (but not as beautiful as the Parisian version).
In the surroundings of the imitation of the Champs-Élysées, there is an extensive number of avenues, squares with fountains and buildings very similar to those found in Paris.
In addition, the region is bathed by a river that, alongside the French landscapes, can, with a good dose of imagination, be associated with the Seine.
And, on the horizon, there are still copies of the marble statues that decorate different parts of the City of Light and of fountains found in the complex of the Palace of Versailles.
The references, however, do not stop there: even without having a Louvre, Tianducheng has replicas of the “Mona Lisa” displayed in some of its commercial buildings.
The streetlights, meanwhile, are almost exact copies of those seen in Montmartre.
And, at night, the Chinese Eiffel Tower is constantly lit up with bright colors, just like Paris’s ultimate postcard.
a ghost Paris
Tianducheng has another curiosity: after being built with inspiration in Paris in the first decade of the 21st century, this region of Hangzhou was, for years, called a “ghost town”.
Its construction was, in fact, an undertaking whose objective was to attract at least 10 thousand people eager to live in a replica of the City of Lights in the middle of China.
But interest in this new urban center was slow to grow, mainly because its location was considered difficult to access – and it was only in recent years that considerable occupation of properties in Tianducheng began to be recorded, which recently gained a subway station to connect it with the center of Hangzhou.
Until things kicked in, the replica of Paris was left with landscapes similar to scenarios seen in apocalyptic films, with its streets and squares often empty — and with the lonely Eiffel Tower in a depressing, almost lifeless environment.
Currently, however, Tianducheng has been experiencing livelier days, with a few thousand residents settled in its territory, brides taking pictures with the replica of the Eiffel Tower in the background and a good amount of local and foreign tourists constantly circulating around its perimeter.
But if you accidentally arrive at this Chinese place, don’t believe in teleportation: you’ll soon realize that, instead of wine and baguette, the locals will be tasting tea and wonton.