Lovers visiting Paris will soon have to find a new way of expressing their affections now that the city has decided to remove locks from its famed Pont des Arts, aka “Love Lock,” bridge. For years, couples touring the city of love have written their names on locks, blanketed Paris’ bridge with them and thrown away the keys. The popular trend symbolizes undying feelings. However, officials say thousands of locks have become safety hazards and that city hall workers will begin removing locks from Pont des Arts bridge on Monday. “This phenomenon generates two problems: a lasting degradation of the heritage of Paris and also a risk to the safety of visitors, Parisians and tourists,” city hall said in a statement.
Part of the Pont des Arts bridge collapsed under the weight of the locks last year, BBC News reports. Now, almost a million padlocks — weighing 45 tons — are expected to be cut off, the networks report.
The Pont des Arts metal railings are to be covered with padlock-proof glass panels that are easy to clean of graffiti, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The paper reports that Paris authorities have tried asking nicely for tourists and others to refrain from attaching locks to bridges and public monuments. But officials have admitted that the campaign to get couples to take selfies and post their “love lock” online had not been successful.
In 2014, Lisa Anselmo, a New Yorker who now calls Paris home, and Lisa Taylor Huff, a freelance writer from New Jersey who has dual U.S.-French citizenship and lives in Paris, started “No Love Locks,” a campaign against the love locks.
“This is a strong first step, one that sends a clear message to tourists: Paris does not want ‘love locks,’ ” Anselmo told The Local, a news network in Europe. “We are thrilled, and hope this is the beginning of the end for this destructive trend.”
The love lock phenomenon has been tracked to an Italian teen novel titled I Want Youpublished in 2006, featuring two Roman lovers who immortalized their bond on a bridge and threw the key in the Tiber, according to The Wall Street Journal. Padlocks have since sprouted in other cities around the world, but nowhere appears to have embraced the trend as much as Paris, a town rich in romantic symbolism, the paper reports.
Paris city hall spokeswoman Barbara Atlan told The Wall Street Journal that after the Pont des Arts bridge, workers will rip off the padlocks from other bridges where they represent a risk.