Plea to Valentine Visitors: Respect Paris Heritage Bridges and Stop Love Locking Them
Paying Paris a visit for St Valentine’s Day this year? Thousands do of course thanks to the eternal romance associated with the French capital, but this February 14, the city makes a special appeal, please forget the love locks.
In a plea to Valentine Visitors to Paris this year Lisa Taylor Huff for the No Love Locks campaign told French News Online: “We need you! Let’s send a message to visitors to this city that hanging a lock on its historic monuments and in the public spaces of Paris is vandalism damaging to the capital and hurtful to the people of France —culturally, economically and emotionally. We call on tourists to act responsibly, to show their respect and empathy for Parisians and to refrain from destroying the beauty and heritage of this city. Paris is a romantic destination with so much to offer lovers, we hope visitors will move beyond destructive padlocks that say nothing about love.” She added: “Our message is ‘Give Paris Love (Not Locks)’ a campaign embracing social media with the hashtag #NoLoveLocksDay”.
Lisa Taylor Huff, a French-American and Paris resident, and Lisa Anselmo, who divides her time between Paris and New York and owns a property in Paris, set up the “No Love Locks” campaign to promote responsible tourism. They say they set out to preserve historic places in Paris after being shocked by the visual pollution caused by more than a million rusting padlocks on the Pont des Arts, their favourite Paris bridge over the Seine.
The campaigners says the negative effects of approximately 1 million heavy, rusting, locks on the bridges and monuments of Paris are not only seen physically, in the collapsing and boarded-up panels of the worst-impacted bridges, but are also felt psychologically by Parisians who see their beautiful city centre deteriorating. Paris City Hall has already declared an end to “love locks” with the installation of experimental glass “lock-proof” panels on the Pont des Arts and Pont de l’Archevêché, and has been actively encouraging visitors to take advantage of the many other romantic things to do in Paris, the City of Love.
The No Love Locks campaign has been running since March 2014 and they say grass roots support from residents and visitors alike has clearly had an impact. The Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has cleared parts of the Pont des Arts and Pont de l’Archevêché bridges and is experimenting with alternative transparent panels that enable strollers to enjoy at least glimpses of the river unhindered. However the now graffiti-covered boards along the rest of the Pont des Arts used to hide the locks that are still in place, are apparently an interim measure before City Hall settles on a final solution.
Unfortunately as a Paris-based foreign correspondent noted, this temporary cure may be worse than the initial disease:
@FrenchNewsonlin Crossed pont des Arts this afternoon & it’s worst I’ve ever seen it – all rusting metal, graffiti & aggressive lock sellers
— Peter Allen (@peterallenparis) February 8, 2015
That the war on love locks remains an uphill battle can be seen from these photos and accounts published by the campaigners on their Facebook page:
New images taken February 6th during Lisa Taylor Huff’s most recent visit to the Pont des Arts:
100% (all 110 panels) of this bridge is now boarded up (with the exception of the 3 glass panels), and the boards are covered with graffiti. Small sections of some of the boards have been torn away by the illegal lock sellers to create spaces for people to continue attaching locks. Glass panels continue to be cleaned of tags by city workers, for which we thank them, but some small tags were there again today, and someone has found a way to attach a clump of locks on the exteriors of the glass panels.
Even on a freezing cold day, with the bridge in such deplorable condition, one illegal seller and at least 2 bouquinistes were selling locks, with several couples buying them:
Here a brazen tourist ties a cable behind the glass panels in order to hang his lock. Love is madness. And in this case, selfish, says Lisa:
Worse still its spreading. The “love locks” problem grows all over Paris, throughout the UNESCO World Heritage zone, not just the Pont des Arts. Over 11 bridges in total are affected. Here, locks and graffiti mar the stunning Passerelle Debilly, also a landmark. Illegal lock vendors contribute to the vandalism and they have a ready supply of customers, Lisa records on Facebook.
The two campaigners have identified the following bridges and public spaces as among the worst examples of ongoing activities by non-cooperative love lockers:
11 Seine bridges:
– Pont des Arts
– Pont de l’Archevêché
– Pont Neuf (behind statue of Henri IV)
– Pont Alexandre III
– Passarelle Debilly
– Pont Léopold Sédar Senghor (Solférino)
– Pont Simone de Beauvoir
– Pont Notre Dame
– Pont au Double
– Pont Saint Louis
– Pont d’Arcole
Canal Saint Martin (at least 4 bridges or foot bridges)
Montmartre: fences in front of Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower “overlook” near Place du Tertre
Parc Monceau (fences)
Parc Buttes Chaumont (fences)
French News Online was the first English language newspaper to report on the love locks phenomenon back in May 2010 — in what is still today, the most popular story every published by this paper– and the first with an exclusive report here, to break news of the anti-lock campaign, launched March 2014 by two American residents in Paris.
Story: Ken Pottinger
For more on the Love Locks saga read these reports:
- Are Love Locks a Parisian Heartache? Now Key-Carrying Tourists Respond
- Do Love Locks Tarnish Paris? Vote
- Love Locks Back on Paris Bridges
- Say No to Paris Bridge Love Locks?
- A Paris Bridge That Might Have Been X-Rated
- Love Locked on a Paris Bridge