No love lost

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  • Paris love locks
  • Love locks are supposed to be sweet romantic gestures, writing lovers names on a padlock, locking it to a bridge, then throwing the key into the river below so that the love can never be unlocked. But lets be honest, they’re ugly, and many Parisians now consider them an act of vandalism, and with good reason.

    Last year city authorities removed 45 tonnes of ‘love locks’ from the famous Pont des Arts, after a part of the historic bridge over the Seine River collapsed due to the wight of the locks. The cost of the cleanup was, of course, paid for by Parisian tax payers, many of whom consider the locks to be an eyesore.

    There are various different stories and theories about the beginnings of the Love locks, but only in recent years has the practice of hanging love locks on bridges and monuments become noticeably popular. Love locks on Pont des Arts began appearing in 2008 before slowly spreading to other bridges and landmarks across the city that is widely regarded as one of the most romantic destinations in the world. However love locks can be found across the globe. Indeed, I first encountered them in South Korea when I was doing 366 Pictures in 2012!

    Local authorities are now installing methods and devices in an attempt to thwart lovers looking to lock their love to the Pont des Arts, but it seems this is doing little to deter them from simply placing their locks somewhere else.

    I took todays picture at Le Pont Neuf which is the is the oldest bridge in Paris (despite the fact that the name means ‘New Bridge’). As I took the shot an old woman wearing a headscarf came up to me and showed me a box of padlocks she was selling. She didn’t speak and instead just pointed at a hand written sign that simply indicated the price; Five Euros.

    I didn’t buy one, nor did anyone else while I was there. However to put the problem into context, take a look at this very same location exactly two years ago using Google Street view . You’ll see there were only a handful of locks back in 2014. Just a year later the difference is striking, and today the problem is out of control.

    While some (mostly tourists) bemoan the removal of the love locks, complaining that this is a loved Parisian tradition, its hard to make such a claim in a city that has no shortage of history. The Pont des Arts was built under the reign of Napoleon I, and the Le Pont Neuf was opened by Henri IV in 1607. Love locks started appearing just eight years ago. They’re a fad, so maybe the solution to the love lock problem won’t come from the local authorities but instead from the passing of time and the onward march of fashion in this, the most fashionable city of them all.

    Stand in this location using Google streetview. Also using streetview, go back and look at the Pont des Arts in 2009. You’ll be surprised to see no love locks, then compare that with 2014.

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  • 4 comments on “No love lost

    1. Great picture and written piece as usual 🙂 I sell engraved love locks, they only lock once and there is no key! I have seen photos in one country (can’t remember where) that they have dedicated places for love locks, a metal tree I think it was.
      I suggest people put them in deep box picture frame attached to a U Bolt, not only does this save them being cut off a fence or railing but it also means that they can see the lock any time and remember the reason the occasion the lock was bought for:-)

      • Hi Gary, yeah that’s a good suggestion. When researching this I saw a few countries with love lock solutions in the form of alternative things for people to attach the locks to. Odessa has this heart shaped lock lock structure. There are a few other examples of alternative structures on this guys blog too.

        I hope Paris tells us what they do with the love locks they removed and continue to remove. It would be good to hear a story about the metal being recycled somehow. The city could maybe create a love lock heart or tree or something from the recycled metal? That could be good PR and also help raise awareness that it’s not cool to burden ancient structures that aren’t built to take them.

        • That tree looks great! and to be honest I can’t see why any town/city cannot have one, I am sure the cost of a metal tree that is a designated for love locks would be a lot cheaper than removing locks that have been placed where they are not wanted.

          Loving the photos Simon! take care 🙂


          • It’s funny. I went to a small town in France this weekend and they had love locks on the railings by the river – grr! But the town had installed a big round structure for love locks near the canal. Seems to have worked a little, but I have an idea about stopping people from putting them on monuments and railings around the monuments.

            How about putting some love heart shaped ‘trees’ at the ends of the bridges with a sign saying that this is where to lock your love. In addition, the sign should say something about how the locks damage things and how if you put a lock on the bridge it will be snapped off by a “love breaking officer.”

            In other words, take the fad and play it at its own game. Talk not about how its vandalism,because few people feel their love is vandalism, but instead talk about how your love WILL be broken if you lock it to a monument.

            Also, a large perspex bin full of broken locks might be a good illustration of not only the broken loves but also the problem of the locks in the city.

            I think with a bit of clever PR spin Paris could have a little fun cleaning up this problem that really is a problem here. 🙂

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