I’ve just returned from my third trip to Paris. (Lucky me!) I went in 1998 with my son, 2011 with my family, and now 2014 with my co-worker. Some things about Paris never change, but some things do. Take the locks of love, for instance.
In 1998, there were no locks on the Pont des Arts bridge along the Seine, so I don’t have a picture. But sometime in the past few years, people started expressing their undying love by attaching padlocks, often with names or messages inscribed on them, to the bridge as had previously been done in Italy. When we were there in 2011, it looked like this:
Just three short years later, the bridge is in a state of disrepair with the weight of all the locks. Now it looks like this:
The locks are hooked onto other locks and onto bike chains. They’ve stretched beyond the bridge itself to the fences along the sidewalk. I picked up a wad and was astounded by the weight. The cluster of locks linked together in my hand had to have weighed nearly 20 lbs.
It’s beautiful, but dangerous. In June of this year, the bridge was evacuated after a five-foot section of the bridge rail crumbled under the weight of the padlocks. Paris officials replaced that section with Plexiglas. Other sections are blocked off with plywood. The locks behind them are still intact, but I think that’s temporary. Soon there will be no more chain link fencing. There will be nothing left to attach locks to.
Still, hawkers are set up on the bridge selling a variety of padlocks to young lovers. While I was there, I saw three more locks attached to the bridge. I think they’re probably only going to be there temporarily. The plywood signs are on the wall: the locks are going down. The next time I go to Paris, I expect to see a completely different scene on this bridge. As evidenced in my three visits so far, things change.
What do you think about the love locks?