A recent trip to Paris gave me a chance to check up on the ongoing saga of the love padlocks on the Pont des Arts. Several years ago, couples took to attaching a padlock to the wire frame of the bridge, and tossing the key into the River Seine, all as a symbol of their undying love. The craze has spread with love padlocks appearing in cities all around the world.
Some cities have even erected metal ‘trees’ to encourage couples to leave the padlocks there, rather than attaching them to historical monuments and heritage sites. In 2010, after the Parisian authorities had expressed concerns and threatened to remove the locks, a large number of them disappeared virtually overnight though the authorities denied that it was at their hands.
Since then, the Love Padlocks have re-appeared in force, covering nearly the entire bridge. From the banks of the Seine, the bridge glistens in the sunlight.
Many of the locks are engraved with names and dates showing that these are not a spur of the moment thing. People travel a long way to fix their love padlock to the bridge and quite often have a date in the future engraved on it, like one couple from Canada I spoke to who were planning to revisit Paris and find their padlock on the date inscribed on it – 5 years from the day they were attaching it.
Whether the Parisian authorities will continue to tolerate these gestures of love is anybody’s guess, but with love padlocks also starting to appear on the upper levels of the Eiffel Tower, one suspects that the time will come when they say enough is enough, but for the time being, it’s a great site, and worth a stroll across on your way from the Louvre to St. Germain.