PARIS — Never faltering despite a gusting 13-m.p.h. wind at his back, Frenchman Philippe Petit realized a long-held dream Saturday by walking across the River Seine on a tightrope to the second level of the Eiffel Tower, 330 feet above the ground.
Petit's lofty walk of nearly half a mile on a cool afternoon was the most spectacular of several events in France on Saturday commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, adopted by the National Assembly on Aug. 26, 1789, and considered by many the most lasting achievement of the French Revolution.
As thousands watched from the river banks, tourist boats and bridges below, Petit, 40, his hair bleached blond for the occasion, paused several times to wave before delivering a rolled-up copy of the declaration to Paris Mayor Jacques Chirac, waiting on a platform on the Eiffel Tower.
At one point, Petit, who had previously made illicit tightrope walks between the World Trade Center towers in New York and the twin towers of Notre Dame Cathedral here, dramatically stripped off a silver lame costume to reveal a rainbow-hued body suit.