Love locks of Paris: Are They a Good Thing for the City?

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return”- Nat King Cole

The Love Locks on Pont des Arts, Paris, France

The Love Locks on Pont des Arts, Paris

Lovers are now demonstrating their commitment to one another by binding a padlock to a bridge in Paris and throwing away the key. This is not unique to Paris, locks now popping up across the world, but there is a certain symbolism with the city renowned for romance.

When Did the Love Locks Appear?

Since the early 2000’s padlocks have been appearing across the bridges of the city in a hope that this will lead to eternal love. This obsession begun on the Pont des Arts and has become so popular that locks are also appearing across Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor and the Pont de l’Archevêché.

Pont des Arts has featured in many films and TV shows, one being a French film about young lovers and may be the reason why this particular bridge is where many choose to attach their lock as a gesture of devotion. The idea is that you inscribe the padlock with your initials, maybe your wedding or engagement date, and then, once secure, throw the key into the River Seine so it can never be removed. However, in 2010 the love locks mysteriously disappeared sparking rumours that the Paris Town Hall Administration had them removed. This turned out not to be the case when a student of nearby Ecole des Beaux-Arts revealed his latest sculpture made of the missing items.

Over the course of time, the tradition has grown, causing the bridge to become overwhelmed and raising concerns that the weight of the locks, as much as 330 pounds on a single grate, is making the bridge unsafe.

The bridges now surrounding this area also have padlocks springing up adding to the notion that romance blossoms in this city. Others say that the bridge you place your padlock on symbolises who you are actually showing your love for…

“Pont des Arts is for your committed love, while Pont de l’Archevêché is for your lover.”

Many Parisians say that the symbolism is all wrong; a padlock is signally ownership rather than commitment, which is not what love should be about. Others just see it as unsightly in an area with many beautiful sights, and support the concerns that “they raise problems for the preservation of our architectural heritage”.

Whether it is approved of or not it seems that the outlaw lovers or “cadenas d’amour” will continue to show their loyalty to one another in this way and should definitely be added to your sightseeing list.

Would you add a padlock to the many now appearing in Paris?  Perhaps you have added a Love Lock to another bridge and would like to share whether you went on to regret it or not.

4 Comments

  • When we were in Paris we did this and I think that the act is different for everyone, We locked a padlock to the bridge in honor of each other and we know the commitment and wanted to leave a bit of us in Paris.

    • I think it’s a great symbolism of commitment for couples across the world and it seems to be becoming more popular everywhere we go; even a little town in the Peak District we visited over Easter had love padlocks on a bridge over the river. 🙂

  • First of all, a gorgeous photo! I love Paris and I can understand why these love locks are popping up in Paris – it is the city of romance after all. However, I didn’t know about the safety concerns because of the locks on the bridge. Thanks for sharing about people’s perspectives about the locks!

    • Thanks for your comments – it would seem that the locks are definitely causing a few problems for the council. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years. I commented on another blog just yesterday saying that its a shame, people add their locks only to have them cut off after a year or two and they highlighted that at least the keys will forever be at the bottom of the river – which I think is still quite a romantic notion!

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