Paris bids ‘adieu’ to love locks on the Pont des Arts
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Workers in Paris began the process of removing hundreds of thousands of “love locks” from the city’s famed Pont des Arts on Monday amid concerns that the bridge could collapse under their weight.
Couples from around the world have flocked to the Pont des Arts over the years to declare their eternal love by fastening a padlock with both their names written on it to the bridge's chain-link guardrail and then dropping the key into the Seine below.
But the romantic practice was called into question last year after a section of the bridge collapsed under the weight of the so-called love locks, leading Paris city officials to order them to be removed due to safety concerns.
Among the crowds of tourists who stopped to watch the bridge’s partial dismantlement were Joe Perino and Delaney Collins, a couple from the United States who were in Paris on holiday. The pair said that although they had planned to attach a love lock to the bridge, they understood why the city was putting an end to the practice.
“It’s a safety issue,” Collins told FRANCE 24, adding that she didn’t feel that the new policy detracted from Paris’s reputation as the city of love.
Standing on the Pont des Arts, Paris Deputy Mayor Bruno Julliard said that, overall, 45 tonnes of padlocks would be removed from the bridge for security as well as aesthetic reasons. The chain-link guardrails will be temporarily replaced by art works before permanent glass panels are installed in the fall.
Julliard said that similar measures will be taken at other tourist sites where love locks have appeared since the trend first emerged in Paris in 2008.
“Paris is going to be the first city to put an end to this practice,” Julliard said, pointing out that the French capital is not the only place where love locks have taken hold. “Maybe other cities will thank us.”
“There are many other ways to say, ‘I love you’,” he said. “The message we want to send is that this practice has to stop.”
The message, however, has yet to reach everyone. Just a few kilometres away, Giovanni and Monica, a couple from Italy, attached a love lock to the guardrail of the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor footbridge, completely unaware of the city’s initiative to have them removed.
“It’s a symbol of our love. We want to come back 10 years from now and find our lock,” Giovanni said. “If I knew that they were planning to take them down, I wouldn’t have bought the lock.”
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