Paris ‘love locks’ to be removed from Pont des Arts bridge

Trend of attaching locks to bridges has spread to Dublin and other capital cities

 

Municipal workers in Paris are to remove almost one million padlocks from the city’s famous Pont des Arts bridge.

The padlocks — signed and locked by lovers on the metal grills on the bridge — are widely regarded as an eyesore on Paris’ most picturesque bridge, which overlooks the Eiffel Tower.

Tourists from all over the world flock to the bridge spanning the Seine River and many attach a lock representing their eternal love, before throwing the key into the river.

But the now-iconic bridge is buckling under the weight of such devotion, and authorities are desperate to stop the craze.

Last year police hurriedly ushered tourists off the Pont des Arts when a section of the footbridge collapsed under the weight of the locks covering the 155-metre-(509-foot-)long bridge.

While the trend of attaching locks to the Pont des Arts began in 2008, the problem is not unique to Paris.

Since 2011 padlocks have been appearing on Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge and while the city council continues to remove them, couples continue to attach them.

Last year, the council was forced to post temporary notices on the bridge urging people not to place locks on the 199-year old structure.

It is unclear where the idea of using the lock ritual to symbolise love originated, but the padlocks bearing lovers’ initials have spread from European capitals, to as far as Marrakech and China.

The solution in Paris was to erect plastic panels to deter couples and authorities launched a drive to get tourists to upload selfies instead of attaching a lock.

Efforts to dissuade tourists from placing padlocks on the bridge were largely ignored however and tourists continue to attach locks to the bridge and elsewhere.

The Pont de l’Archeveche bridge in front of the Notre Dame cathedral is now as inundated with locks, while stray locks can often be spotted around the city.

Deploring “destruction of heritage” and a security risk for tourists on the overloaded Pont des Arts, Paris officials have decided enough is enough and will remove all locks from Monday.

“We will remove nearly one million padlocks, or 45 tonnes,” said city official Bruno Julliard, criticising the “ugliness” of the locks on some of Paris’s most beautiful bridges.

The metal grills of the bridge will be replaced with works of art over the summer, and will later be replaced with clear panels.

“We want Paris to remain the capital of love and romance,” Mr Julliard said, adding a campaign encouraging lovers to express their love in different ways - such as the selfie initiative - would get underway soon.