Love Locked on a Paris Bridge
Le Pont des Arts in Paris has been invaded by “love locks”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.
Lovers from all over the world, aware of the bridge’s romancing traditions, have padlocked engraved metal souvenirs of their mutual enchantment, on the Pont des Arts railings before hurling the key into the Seine.
The fashion is puzzling Paris City Hall. Bertrand Delanoë the capital’s Socialist mayor says the trend: “raises questions about the preservation of our heritage”, adding that “the locks will have to be removed in time. We are working on an alternative, why not some sort of metal tree to support these locks,” he said.
A Le Post reporter who visited the bridge, connecting the Louvre with St-Germain des Prés, noted that names on the locks were from all over the world: Masatoshi and Ayako, Markus and Alicia, Bikounet Shimonnett Stefan und Constance Gent and Maria.
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The reporter encountered a Slovakian family on the bridge. Dusan, his wife and son Ljuka Shift, had hung three padlocks on the celebrated ironwork with Dusan explaining he had given the keys to his son in the hope that he would return as an adult and collect the locks. “It’s fun, we took a load of pictures as we clamped the locks,” he said.
The origin of the fashion is a mystery. It is thought it may have been started by Italian tourists enacting the plot of a sentimental novel by Federico Moccia, in which the protagonists hung a lock inscribed with their names on a lamppost near Ponte Milvio in Rome, kissed and threw the key into the Tiber.
Others think the fashion started in Moscow where railings on the Luzhkov Bridge are so crowded with “locks of love” that special metal poles have been added to cope with the collection.
Similar fads have been reported on bridges in Brussels, Kiev, Vilnius, the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, in Venice and naturally, the Ponte Pietra in Verona, Romeo and Juliet’s hometown.
In Paris, the love locks invasion is spilling over onto the Pont de l’Evêché and the Passerelle Léopold-Senghor where a hot chestnut vendor also does a brisk trade in lovers padlocks for 5 euros.
Story: Ken Pottinger
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