Locked In Time: Remembering Parisian Love Locks

By Anthony Galasso

IMAGE: NadineDoerle via Pixabay

IMAGE: NadineDoerle via Pixabay

It wasn't long ago that Paris' Pont de Arts bridge was adorned with roughly 700,000 padlocks, each signifying the strength and passion of loving couples all over the world.

However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. It was with a heavy heart that Paris ended its love affair with the Love Locks in 2015, citing structural damage to the bridge as the weight of all 700,000 padlocks equated up to 45 tons -- roughly the weight of 20 elephants.

The bridge simply couldn't withstand the weight.

Moreover, it also seemed that there were local Parisians who couldn't stand the eyesore. In 2012, a No Love Locks advocacy group was formed to save the bridge from its unsightly destruction.

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"Paris had to do something to save their heritage sites. The entire UNESCO World Heritage district is endangered by love locks," co-founder Lisa Anselmo said in an email.

According to CityMetric.com, the Love Locks have since been removed with plans to install plexiglass panels to create better views of the Seine River -- the same river that many lovers tossed their padlock keys into once they solidified their love.

Since the locks' removal, wooden boards have been put in place until the plexiglass installations arrive, which many Parisian graffiti artists have use to pay homage to the tradition through their art.

IMAGE: Getty

IMAGE: Getty

Parisian authorities are also trying to prevent people from continuing the tradition through alternative methods, which includes a "Selfies, Not Padlocks" campaign. Unsurprisingly, the campaign hasn't caught on yet.

How The Love Locks Tradition Started

According to The NY Times, the initial Love Locks trend was believed to emerge from a 2006 Italian young adult novel-turned-movie, beginning in Rome and spreading like wildfire, eventually reaching Paris in 2008.

In fact, it seems as though there wasn't much love for Love Locks in Rome at the time either as many Italians felt the tradition of tossing a key off the Ponte Milvio would soon be swept up by tourists, turning into the lover's equivalent of flipping a coin into the Trevi Fountain.

However, Rome eventually came up with the solution to install specially-designated Love Lock poles for people to profess their love, but it wasn't met with nearly the same fervor.

"It's less romantic," said Costantino Boccuni, a 28-year-old soldier who had just affixed a lock to one of the new city-approved spots to declare his love for his wife of six years, Daniela, 26. "It was more beautiful before. It was more original. "Now it's more like a fashion," he said.

C'est la vie.

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