A Scrappy End to Pledges of Love? See Where the Love Locked to Paris Bridges Went

Does this photo portray the final ignoble end — an ironmongers scrapyard — of the Parisian love locks fad that saw millions locking undying love to the famous Passerelle des Arts and other bridges in the capital of love?

Paris love locks on the way to a scrapyard (Credit Facebook Olivier Dosne)

Paris love locks on the way to a scrapyard (Credit Facebook Olivier Dosne)

Le Parisien reported Wednesday that Olivier Dosne the Joinville-le-Pont Mayor (Les Républicains) and deputy representing the Val-de-Marne, had passed this truck on the Quai de la Rapée (XII arrondissement) loaded with the famous padlocks tourists once clamped to Parisian bridges. The truck carries a Seine-et-Marne registration.

Olivier Dosne Mayor of Joinville-le-Pont (credit wikipedia)

Olivier Dosne Mayor of Joinville-le-Pont (credit wikipedia)

Accompanying the photo Olivier Dosne posted on Facebook, he wrote: “love headed for the scrap-heap”.

Initially Paris City Hall had intended to auction off the most beautiful specimens removed from the bridges or give them to artists, the paper added.

There was no immediate response from the Paris Mayor’s office to the report and tourism officials were keeping heads down, clearly not keen to stir the pot over what became a running sore in the city for the seven years the locks adorned Paris bridges.

Some 70 tonnes of padlocks were removed from the Passerelle des Arts bridge in the I arrondissement and the Pont de l’Archevêché bridge in the V arrondissement and stored in the roads department depots.

Back in May 2010 French News Online became the first English language media in France to report on the love locks fad.

The locks started appearing in 2008: “The most romantic bridge in Paris, Le Pont des Arts also known as the Passerelle des Arts is the target of love lockers. Built as a toll bridge in 1803 it was the city’s first iron bridge and lying close to the heart of France’s prestigious Academy of Arts and Letters, is celebrated by poets and artists for its delicate ironwork and beautiful Seine views. Today however more than 1,600 different sized and shaped ‘love locks’ cling to its railings the oldest apparently dated 2008,” we reported.

Initially regarded benevolently as a tourist attraction and an appropriate tribute to Paris’s reputation as the City of Love, the locks became an eyesore over time with some even fearing they posed a structural danger due to the added weight on the bridges.

Love Lock Bridge, on the Pont de l'Archevêché, (Credit flickr/Mel)

Love Lock Bridge, on the Pont de l’Archevêché, (Credit flickr/Mel)

Eventually in March 2014 two American residents in Paris launched a Say No to Paris Bridge Love Locks campaign to end the love locking, a development we again reported, exclusively, at the time: “Lisa Anselmo and Lisa Taylor Huff, two Americans living in Paris, are lobbying to end a six-year frenzy of mainly tourist-driven love-locking and restore the Parisian love lockers paradise — eyesore as they see it — to unchained pristine former glory. There has been no lack of fierce debate since 2008 when the first locks made a tentative appearance on the bridge that connects the Louvre with St-Germain des Prés and soon spread to other nearby bridges. Paris City Hall several times announced it was considering alternatives sites for the locks which it branded a danger to the bridge’s stability, yet the passerelle remains a prisoner chained to the passion of thousands of lovers who make the Paris Pont des Arts pilgrimage in all seasons to affirm eternal romance.”

As debate raged and despite increasing concerns by residents about the aesthetics of tons of rusting locks, Paris City Hall blew hot and cold over the issue apparently fearing a tourist backlash. Eventually the then recently elected Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo took action and replaced the locks with graffiti boards which some considered to be in even worse taste.

nolovelocks 2015 2 st valentins day 7 (Credit Facebook)

With the imminent removals threatened Philéas Fiquemont an enterprising local jeweller kitted himself out with a variety of different keys from a vast personal collection, and offered to remove locks for individuals who contacted him and post them back to the owners. His efforts were cut short however when the municipality finally made a serious all out effort to end the fad: “Philéas Fiquemont, who styles himself Philéas le Cléateur (a portmanteau derived from Clé and Créateur or the key creator) has travelled France collecting a vast horde of hand-made and other ancient keys from brocantes and vide greniers, a passion he has now turned into a business of creating jewellery from keys”.

Story: Ken Pottinger

Read all our extensive coverage of this phenomenon here:

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