Paris is the city of love, so it’s fitting that the French capital has several thriving love lock locations.
Love locks — a modern ‘tradition’ whereby sweethearts inscribe their names or initials on a padlock, attach it to a public structure, and throw away the key, permanently sealing their love — used to adorn the Pont des Arts, the footbridge that crosses the Seine from the Left Bank to the Louvre, as well as the Pont de l’Archevêché, in the shadow of Notre Dame Cathedral.
Several years ago, following political discussions about whether the locks were an eyesore or detrimental to the integrity of the city’s architecture, the Pont des Arts was mysteriously cleared one night and locks are now routinely removed from various locations around the city.
Many locals consider the lovelocks to be a serious problem that threaten bridges and other important landmarks due to the accumulated weight of the locks. However, in June of 2014, part of the Pont des Arts bridge had to be closed when one of its metal grills collapsed, lugged down by the locks. In May of 2015, the city council decided to remove all of them (45 tonnes in total) and install panels to prevent people from fixing new ones.
Of course, tourists bemoan the removal of the love locks, complaining that this is a loved Parisian tradition. However, it is perhaps worth remembering that The Pont des Arts was built under the reign of Napoleon I, and love locks only started appearing in 2008!
Of course, love locks haven’t disappeared from the bridges over the Seine. Indeed, padlock and permanent marker pen vendors do a thriving trade on and alongside the bridges. However, lovers beware, city authorities often remove locks from landmarks, breaking them, and perhaps breaking the love the locks were supposed to secure?
Update 2016: The locks were cut off the bridge for safety purposes.
Update 2022: While the locks have returned to the Pont des Arts as well as other Parisian bridges and their surroundings, it is unclear whether they’ll remain there for a while or not.