Zut Alors! This Matchstick Eiffel Tower Just Beat a World Record

It took eight years to build this matchstick Eiffel Tower replica. It just won the Guinness World Record.

The Eiffel Tower, built with matchsticks by Richard Plaud. Photo: @toureiffelallumettes on Instagram.

It took 50 engineers and draftsmen, 150 metal factory workers, and 250 construction workers a little over two years to build the 984-feet-tall Eiffel Tower using 18,000 metal parts. For Richard Plaud, however, it took eight years, 706,900 matches, and 50 pounds of glue to complete his 23-feet-tall replica. His model of the landmark won him a Guinness World Record for the world’s tallest matchstick sculpture in Saujon, France, on the January 7—but the win didn’t come easy. 

Despite Plaud’s 4,200 hours of dedicated work since December 2015, the structure was initially disqualified by the Guinness World Records (GWR) for being made of mutilated matches. In the early days of the project, Plaud purchased matches and ripped off their heads, using just the stems to build the tower. To lessen the tedium of the work ahead of him, he contacted the match manufacturer to request headless matches, receiving dozens of pounds of them.

This detail earned his magnum opus an immediate disqualification by the GWR committee for not using matches that were commercially available. He was told his matches were distorted beyond recognition, to the point that they were unrecognizable. The decision was made without a judge having ever looked at the tower. 

Devastated, Plaud turned to social media to air his grievances, writing a scathing Instagram post where he called the decision a “great disappointment.” The next day, the committee reviewed the case and recanted the disqualification. They accepted that they were being “heavy handed” with their application of the rules, and granted the sculptor and his work the sought-after title. Plaud expressed great relief at the change in decision, and now has his sights set on displaying the tower at the upcoming Olympics, to be hosted in Paris this July.

Plaud completed his project on December 27, 2023, on the 100th anniversary of the death of Gustave Eiffel, the actual tower’s primary engineer. The former world record holder was Toufic Daher of Lebanon, who built an Eiffel Tower replica in 2009. It stood at 21.4-feet tall.

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