1,000,000 RELATIONSHIPS PRESUMABLY SUFFERED an irreparable blow today, when Paris’s government cut down the 1,000,000 “love locks” that had been affixed to the Pont des Arts bridge over the Seine. The tradition, which has picked up considerably in the past few years, had already caused serious issues, with the weight of the locks causing portions of the bridge’s chainlink fence to collapse, and the Parisian government has been asking tourists not to put their locks on the bridge for some time now.
The idea is that you write the name of you and your beloved on a lock, you attach the lock to the bridge, and then you dramatically toss your key into the Seine, creating a permanent memento of your love. The love locks tradition did not originate in Paris — it actually began around 100 years ago at the Most Ljubavi bridge in Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia, and it has since spread to bridges around the rest of Europe and the world. But Paris has had the most difficulty with the superstition, with residents believing them to be somewhat tacky and also an incredibly ugly blight on an otherwise beautiful bridge, and with the sheer weight of tens of thousands of locks causing serious structural problems for the old bridges.
In order to prevent the further addition of love locks, Parisian authorities are replacing the chainlink fences with plexiglass, which will give pedestrians views of the Seine. But the Pont des Arts isn’t the only bridge in Paris with love locks: take a stroll up the Seine and you’ll see them practically anywhere with a chainlink fence, particularly Pont Neuf.
So Paris’ commitment to its reputation as the “City of Love” has finally been tested. Bruno Julliard, the deputy mayor in charge of culture who oversaw the lock removals, said, the locks “could be seen as rather pleasant, but as years passed they took on such proportions that they were no longer acceptable for the cultural heritage.”
Let the record show: in the battle between love and culture, Paris will side with culture. So if you want to create a memento for your undying love in Paris, paint a picture. It will last longer.