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Too Much Love in Paris? Au Revoir Love Locks!

Love Locks

Locks fastened to a Paris bridge to signify eternal love might not be so eternal after all.

Paris authorities have announced that all the “love locks” fastened to the railing of the Pont des Arts bridge will be removed, citing structural risks to the bridge and public safety, the BCC reports. Part of the bridge collapsed under the weight of the locks last year, and city officials have already tried to prohibit couples from adding more locks. “Love locks” have long been popular with tourists in Paris who want to leave behind a romantic token in the City of Love.

Paris is to remove padlocks symbolically fastened to one of the French capital’s main bridges by couples. In Paris, the craze began in 2008 on the Pont des Arts, which spans the 150 metres between the Tuileries gardens and the Musee d’Orsay. It has since spread to all footbridges across the Seine. Tying a ‘love lock’ on to the Pont des Arts before throwing the key into the River Seine beneath has become a tourist tradition in recent years.

When Olivia and I visited Paris this month, we found lots of visitors enjoying the bridge and still adding their own locks. We were told that locks were already being removed from the outer edges of the bridge in an attempt to draw any new locks to the open space on the sides rather than continuing to pile them up across the bridge – taking the stress off the center of the bridge.  It really is an amazing display of love, but I can see how 45 additional tons added to a 200 year-old bridge could render the structure unsound.

love locks bridge T&O

In fact, part of the bridge collapsed under the weight last year. Therefore, close to a million padlocks are expected to be cut off beginning June 1, 2015 as they now pose a safety risk. The Pont de l’Archeveche, near the Notre Dame cathedral, will also have locks removed from its side. The metal grilles on the side of the Pont des Arts, which date back to 1804, will be replaced by paintings over the summer, before transparent panels are put in place later this year.

On Friday, a statement by the city council said the tradition “has led to two big problems: significant damage to our heritage, and a risk to visitors’ security”. Venice has also struggled to deter tourists from attaching locks to the Rialto bridge, and in New York, amateur locksmiths launched a campaign to remove locks from the Brooklyn Bridge.

It’s an unfortunate outcome to a well-intended tradition. I’m glad we were able to see this phenomenon before it’s dismantling and will watch for all the new ways that couples choose to symbolize their “eternal love” in the beautiful city of Paris!

Love Locks Bridge Paris