City of Paris Doesn’t Love The “Love Locks”

Viv on approach to Pont des Arts on the Louvre side

Viv on approach to Pont des Arts on the Louvre side

Thousands of  locks facing the river

Thousands of locks facing the river

VivriverParis is known as the City of Love, and the “Love Locks” on the Pont des Arts definitely reflects this. But, is it possible to have too much love, or at least too many “love locks’?

There are at least an estimated 700,000

A mass of locks

A mass of locks

metal padlocks on the railings of the Pont des Arts, the pedestrian bridge that crosses the River Seine to the Louvre. The locks are painted with couples’ names and are symbols of lasting love. The railings are made of metal mesh, but there are so many locks that people can no longer see through the mesh. This is also because most of the railings are now boarded up on the pedestrian side. This was done because a 5-foot section came crashing down in June, due to the weight of the locks. Luckily the heavy railing fell onto the bridge and not into the river, where it could have injured someone in a boat below. Another section was taken down before it could fall: it weighed 1,100 pounds!

On the bridge---locks on the river side, boarded up on the pedestrian side

On the bridge—locks on the river side, boarded up on the pedestrian side

You can clearly see the locks behind the boards

You can clearly see the locks behind the boards

Paris receives millions of tourists every year, and many of them love putting locks on the Pont des Arts, a practice that started about 7 years ago.

No-one is sure what started the “love lock” craze. Some link it to two Italian novels, printed in 1992 and 2006 (“I Want You” by Federico Moccia). Others say it dates back to 19th century Hungary or to World War 1 Serbia. The idea has spread to other parts of Paris (we saw some locks on railings up at Sacre Coeur), and in many cities in England, Russia, Italy, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia and China, to name a few.

 

A small open section between the boards soon filled up

A small open section between the boards soon filled up

The practice works like this: Attach a lock to a bridge railing, throw the key in the river, and make a wish. Or use a fence, gate or other public fixture. Seems harmless enough, until we hear about sections of railings falling down! Some people also complain that the keys make the river dirty.

tourists

An enterprising/hopeful vendor

An enterprising/hopeful vendor

Whatever people think, though, it seems the practice is here to stay and a week or so ago when in Paris we walked on the Pont des Arts. Thousands of others were doing the same, and all were having great fun pointing out various locks and names and taking lots of pictures. Enterprising vendors were still on the bridge selling locks, and we saw a few folks buying a lock. So, I doubt the craze will just tamely go away!

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo obviously

Rod at the other end of the bridge, where the side railings are fast filling up with locks too

Rod at the other end of the bridge, where the side railings are fast filling up with locks too

would like to solve the problem of too many locks without changing the idea that Paris is the capital of love. One suggestion has been to use ribbons instead of locks, or to put the locks in a different place, other than a bridge. I wonder if that will catch on?

When we were there last week it was our wedding anniversary. We didn’t attach a lock, but it did seem somehow an appropriate place to stop and think about all our years together, in the midst of all that love!

All those locks with the Louvre in the distance

All those locks with the Louvre in the distance

 

Even a lamppost on the bridge has locks!

Even a lamppost on the bridge has locks!

 

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About viviennemackie

Avid traveler, travel writer and photographer. In an earlier life I was a psychologist, but now am an ESL teacher. Very interested in multiculturalism, and how travel can expand one's horizons, understanding and tolerance.
This entry was posted in bridge, Daily life, France, Paris, Paris sights, stories about Paris and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to City of Paris Doesn’t Love The “Love Locks”

  1. Pingback: Love Locks in Seoul—LOTS of Love Locks – Korean Experiences

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