For several years now, couples in Paris have been saying je t’aime by placing a padlock on the city’s famed Pont des Arts bridge. And it has begun to weigh on the famous span — to the tune of some 45 tons.
Lovers (mostly tourists, Parisians say) have placed nearly a million padlocks on a fence along the bridge and then thrown the key into the Seine river as a symbol of their undying adoration. But city officials have a less romantic view of it all, blaming the padlocks for “long-term heritage degradation and a risk for visitors’ security.”
As the Associated Press notes, the locks “became a symbol of danger after a chunk of fencing fell off under their weight.”
Many Parisians say the locks are très gauche in a city that prides itself on elegance and style. They are happy to bid the problem adieu.
“Sorry tourists! Paris says #NoLoveLocks! No more vandalism to Paris!” an online campaign against the locks posted on Twitter.
Others are heartbroken over the move:
Officials say the bridge has been temporarily closed and on Monday they plan to remove the padlocks from what is widely regarded as the city’s most picturesque bridge.
Although Pont des Arts seems to be the focus of the phenomenon in Paris, locks will also be cut off Pont de l’Archeveche, near Notre Dame and presumably the nine or so other bridges where they have cropped up. The practice has also caught on globally in recent years, much to the chagrin of officials in cities such as Seoul, Moscow and Brussels.
To dissuade future acts of vandalism (or love, depending on your point of view), padlock-proof Plexiglas panels will soon replace the Pont des Arts bridge’s metal grills.