Monday, January 18, 2016


Which view do you prefer?
This . . .
The Pont des Arts as it looks today sans locks as seen by Wazim Photos.
 or this?

Love Locks. People either love them or hate them. But everyone seems to have an opinion. I admit, before my first trip to Paris in 2013, seeing pictures of the Pont des Arts bridge adorned with thousands of padlocks was on my list of "to sees" along with the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the quaint outdoor cafes as seen in every movie or tourist promotion. Yes, all the typical tourist stuff.

While I remember crossing the Pont des Arts, I think it was on a bus, so I wasn't able to take a picture of the locks that lined both sides. But I did walk over the passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor (formerly the passerelle Solferino) and took this picture of a growing collection of locks. The pattern and repetition of the parallel rows of colorful locks pleased my photographic eye, not giving a thought to any potential harm or danger. And I easily passed the vendors hawking their cheap locks to those passers-by who came unprepared with a sturdier lock of their own and resisted any temptation to affix a lock myself, as my fascination was more visual than romantic. 

Passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor is a footbridge that links the Musee d'Orsay and the Jardin des Tuileries on opposite sides of the River Seine.

According to several internet sources, this ritual did not originate in Paris, contrary to Paris being nicknamed the "City of Love." Rather, it started in Rome after the 2006 publication of the book I Want You by Italian author Federico Moccia. Inspired by the book, couples inscribed their names on padlocks then attached them to the Ponte Milvio while tossing the key into the Tiber River below. By 2008 the practice moved to Paris.

However, in the spring of 2015, the City of Paris began removing the thousands of pounds of locks that were beginning to damage the physical structure of the bridges. That, and the potential catastrophe if a lock-laden panel fell on a passing  boat or pedestrian meant the final death knell for the locks.

But removing them was no easy task.

As an interim measure, the city commissioned street art "love" panels to replace the padlock panels. Whether that was a visual improvement is debatable, and made many people ponder the difference between street art, graffiti and vandalism.

For me, I've had a reversal of my original fascination with love locks. What clearly started as an innocent, almost cute idea for couples to "lock" their love to a bridge, be it in Paris or Rome or the umpteen other similarly adorned bridges and monuments around the world, has gone too far. I agree that the locks detract from the artistic aesthetic of the bridges which is part of the architectural heritage of a city. And the accumulated weight poses an immediate danger to people. 

Plus one look at the gorgeous photo by Wazim of the unobstructed view of the River Seine along the Pont des Arts speaks for itself. Au revoir, love locks. Bon debarras!

1 comment:

  1. I knew I didn't like them when I saw them attached to the Eiffel Tower when I was trying to enjoy to view from the top. Cruising under the Pont des Arts was a little disconcerting too. I am glad they are removing them.