Because of the considerable damage and deterioration of the Pont des Arts and the Pont de l’Archevêché due to the thousands and thousands of rusting metal padlocks (aka “Love Locks”), Paris authorities have finally decided to remove them for good.
The Pont des Arts will be closed to the public June 1-7 while the locks are removed, and the bridge’s panels will be temporarily replaced with an art installation of works from international artists. Plexiglas panels will be permanently installed in the fall to prevent tourists from attaching their padlocks (some test panels were already installed in 2014, photo below).
Photo courtesy Mairie de Paris/Henri Garat
No word on what will be done for the other bridges that are suffering the same fate (such as the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor, aka Pont de Solférino, and the bridges of the Canal St-Martin), but it’s a great start in putting a halt to the rampant vandalism that has turned the bridges of Paris into dangerous eyesores.
While some tourists think the “Love Locks” are a Parisian tradition, it’s actually a fad started in 2006 after the teenage lovers in the book I Want You by Italian author Federico Moccia attached their padlock to the Ponte Milvio in Rome. The book was made into a film in 2007, and by 2010 the practice spread to Paris. In 2014 the first panel collapsed under the weight on the Pont des Arts, but it didn’t dissuade tourists from continuing to attach their padlocks to any surface they could find.