The Pont des Arts footbridge in Paris was temporarily closed over the weekend when the combined weight of thousands of ‘love locks’ caused a section of railing to collapse inwards. The 150m-long bridge has been a point of interest for countless tourists and couples after the tradition of ‘love locks’ was first initiated there in 2008.
This act involves a couple etching their names or initials into a padlock and attaching it to the bridge before casting the keys over the side into the Seine. Said to symbolise the couple’s undying love for one another, the padlocks have also appeared on numerous other bridges crossing the Seine as the Pont des Arts has become ever more cluttered.
Over the years, concerns have been raised over the effect that this practice may be having on the listed structure and in March two Americans living in Paris initiated the ‘No Love Locks’ campaign to draw attention to the ‘mounting problem of costly maintenance, ecological damage, safety and security, and the degradation of cherished historical structures’ as a result of ‘love locks’.
Addressed to Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and the Paris City Council, the petition reads: “I am writing to voice my concerns over the growing problems in Paris caused ‘love locks’ (padlocks fastened to a bridge to symbolise everlasting love) that have become like a plague on our city’s historic bridges and sites. This is most apparent on the Pont des Arts, which has been terribly degraded, both visually and structurally.
“In a few short years, the heart of Paris has been made ugly, robbing Parisians of quality of life and the ability to safely enjoy their own public spaces along the Seine, which has itself been polluted by thousands of discarded keys. The time has come to enact a ban on ‘love locks’ in order to return our bridges to their original beauty and purpose.”