Bye-bye Love Locks? Paris Workmen Cleaning-up Bridge, Spark Twitter Outcry

Images published late Thursday showing municipal workers removing panels of love locks from the overloaded Pont des Arts lovers bridge in Paris provoked a Twitter storm over fears the locks may soon be gone forever.

The sheer number of locks now on the bridge has raised aesthetic objections from those opposed to them. (Credit: Lisa Anselmo of No to Love Locks)

The sheer number of locks now on the bridge has raised aesthetic objections from those opposed to them. (Credit: Lisa Anselmo of No to Love Locks)

The 20 Minutes website published a picture on April 10 showing one of the wire mesh balustrades on the famous bridge, free of locks, amid signs that a team of workmen might be about to remove the thousands of locks clustered on the bridge.

The fad of padlocking their love to the bridge and hurling the key into the Seine below has gripped the imagination of tens of thousands of young lovers visiting Paris but also infuriated a growing number of residents and less romantic visitors.

As French News Online first reported in an exclusive here, two Americans with close ties to Paris, have launched a campaign to encourage the municipality to remove locks which they say are spoiling some of the best views of the city. However love lock supporters say the practice underlines the image of Paris as the city of love. In addition the vast amounts of free publicity the locks have generated  has certainly not displeased the local tourism authority.  As the Pont des Artes has filled up since the fashion began some four years ago, the heavy-metal invasion has spread to a number of other bridges in Paris.

This Tweet by Jean-Bapt — retweeted more than 1000 times — shows the picture that has prompted the storm:


The information circulated quickly on Twitter provoking an outcry from many users — presumably including some who have locked onto Paris bridges — concerned about the loss of their symbols of enduring love left clinging to the bridge.

The report adds: “For several months, some of the elected officials of Paris have expressed concerns about the locks on the Pont des Arts. Jean-Pierre Lecoq, the UMP Mayor of the capital’s 6th arrondissement, is one of those calling for a ‘clean-up’.” Now with nationwide local elections out of the way and Anne Hidalgo a new Socialist Mayor elected to run the city, the fate of the controversial locks may once more rise up the Mayoral agenda.

According to an earlier Le Monde report: “The increase in the number of lovelocks on the bridge is estimated to add more than 300kg per sqm, to the bridge’s overall weight and is causing some of the mesh barriers to sag”. The paper, quoting Parisian municipal officials added: “The danger is that one day a piece of the bridge bearing several kilos of locks will collapse and fall onto the heads of tourists passing under it on one of the many Bateaux-Mouches (tourist barges), and could seriously injure or even kill someone”.

Anne Hidalgo, new Socialist Mayor of Paris ( Credit Wikipedia)

Anne Hidalgo, new Socialist Mayor of Paris ( Credit Wikipedia)

However the website went on to reassure readers that in the office of the Mayor of Paris, there is no desire to remove the locks permanently. It quoted City Hall as saying: “Municipal teams operate regularly to remove railings that have been weakened (by the weight of the locks).

“These are merely replaced and the old ones stored in a warehouse. There is no question that the municipality will remove all the locks and permanently ban a practice that has become hugely popular with romantics even if the whole issue could reach the desk of Mayor Anne Hidalgo for further consideration,” 20 minutes concluded.

Meanwhile in what may be an elaborate joke, the LaTribuneDuLard twitter feed (@LaTribuneDuLard) offers this image allegedly showing one of the damaged panels of locks removed from the bridge, on sale by auctioneers at Sotheby’s in New York. The interest presumably being the Paris connection and perhaps the “artistic” qualities of the lock-bedecked panel!

Here’s the picture (with no independent verification as to its authenticity):

Love Locks panel from the Pont des Arts bridge apparently on auction at Sotheby's New York (Credit Twitter)

Love Locks panel from the Pont des Arts bridge apparently on auction at Sotheby’s New York (Credit Twitter)


As this Tweeted picture taken by @AlexandreLn shows it only took about half a day for the virgin panel seen in the earlier Tweet above, to become a new canvass for love-locking visitors:

The tweet was carried in the newspaper Liberation which questioned Paris City Hall about the fate of the removed locks — these, as our report above suggests, may now have landed in auctioneers’ hands  — to be told: “We remove the whole balustrade and store it in a warehouse. But the number in store is mounting up quickly and so we are waiting for a decision on a final destination”.

The paper adds that this year alone, the municipality has had to replace three or four overloaded panels — each panel is about two metres long and the one workers removed last week weighed 520 kg — while in just six years some 700,000 padlocks have “invaded the bridges of Paris”.

The report went on: “On the Pont des Arts alone these weigh forty tonnes but there is no danger of the panels breaking and falling into the river because of the way the bridge is designed”.

Libe goes on to report on earlier attempts by local artists offended by the eyesore to remove the locks: “In May 2010, a Fine Arts student stormed the bridge during the night and cut off most of the padlocks — only forty escaping his clean-up. It transpired the student had used his booty creatively for at a Fine Arts faculty exhibition some time later among works on display was a strange sculpture comprised of hundreds of inscribed padlocks. Two years later another French artist, Loris Gréaud decided to remove 130 kgs of padlocks from the bridge, melt them down and create a series of sculptures he named ‘Tainted Love’.”

Story: Ken Pottinger


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