Why We Need to Unlock Our Love from the Bridges of Paris (Guest post by Lisa Anselmo and Lisa Taylor Huff of No Love Locks™)
|Before and after photos of the Pont des Arts. ©No Love Locks|
You’re in Paris on the Pont des Arts with your sweetheart. Maybe it’s your anniversary. You hang a lock engraved with your initials on the bridge, and toss the key in the Seine. Then you walk away.
It’s a year later and that lock is corroded by rust, buried under thousands of other locks and covered in graffiti. The piece of the parapet where you hung your lock gives way, over-burdened by the tonnage it was never designed to hold, and lands squarely on a sightseeing boat passing below, full of tourists.
|Collapsing parapets. ©No Love Locks|
That’s the scenario Paris city officials are dreading. The parapets have been collapsing regularly, so they warn it’s just a matter of time. Six years after the first locks began appearing in Paris, the trend is well out of control, spreading to other historic sites in the city. The Pont des Arts and Pont de l’Archevêché are now inundated and disfigured by well meaning “love locks,” which seem to have invited graffiti and other acts of vandalism as well, further degrading what was once beautiful.
One lock is a poem; thousands, a conundrum. And the growing problem has city officials and locals ringing their hands.
Finding a solution is tricky business. Each lock holds a memory for someone, and on the face of it, it’s a romantic notion. People could argue that a movement against “love locks” is a movement against love itself. Paris officials have been slow to act, afraid of appearing unwelcoming to lovers. But it’s evident to anyone who will look that this once-lovely idea has become a feeding frenzy, a monster meme bringing Paris to her knees. These days it’s less about love and more about obsession. People are even risking their lives to hang these locks, climbing up lampposts and scaling the outer edges of the bridges. L’amour est une vraie folie, as they say. Madness, indeed. Has common sense and decency been flung into the Seine along with those keys? It has catastrophe written all over it.
|Romantic? Love locks and graffiti on the Pont des Arts. ©No Love Locks|
It’s come to a point where the city can no longer do nothing. The current state of the bridges is so dire that Parisians are not at liberty to enjoy their own public spaces anymore, and security issues have reached critical mass. Sadly, it may be that only an outright ban on “love locks” will give Paris officials the leverage they need to get this beast under control, and save people from hurting themselves.
We appreciate that many of you have special memories of hanging your “love lock” on a bridge in Paris. For others, putting a lock on the Pont des Arts may be on your bucket list. But think about how your lock will contribute to the destruction of Paris’s beautiful bridges, and ask yourself if you want to be a party to that. And those keys being tossed into the Seine? We’ve yet to discover the impact they are having on the environment. Parisians are paying for every photo op with the loss of their heritage, and with their taxes, which go toward the costly routine repairs. You must agree that’s unfair. Imagine a cherished site in your town disfigured and covered in graffiti by visitors who presumed to do so in the name of love. How would you feel?
|Is this love? Spray-painted love locks on the Pont des Arts. ©No Love Locks|
We’re not anti-love or anti-tourist. We, like you, once thought the idea of “love locks” was romantic. Then we watched our beautiful bridges turning into eyesores and falling apart—and we just couldn’t stand by and watch anymore.
Many people feel the same way. Since we started No Love Locks, we’ve received overwhelming support from all over the world. When the reality of “love locks” is made clear, often people have a change of heart and join our cause. In the first six days since the launch of our petition, we garnered more than 1000 signatures toward our goal, as people everywhere are starting to realize this self-indulgent trend du jour is costing us our future.
If you really love Paris, unlock your love and lift the weight of it from the shoulders of Parisians. Join us in helping Paris save her bridges and you’ll have our undying love. We just won’t proclaim it with a lock, if that’s okay with you.
Sign and share our petition today:
English petition / Pétition en français
To learn more visit: nolovelocks.com
Follow: No Love Locks on Twitter
With special thanks to Lisa Anselmo and Lisa Taylor Huff for starting the "No Love Locks" initiative in Paris and for agreeing to write a guest post for "Out and About in Paris". Given the groundswell of support from Parisians and expats, I look forward to the day when the Pont des Arts returns to its pre-love locks former glory. - Mary Kay Bosshart (Out and About in Paris)
|Before—©Lisa Taylor Huff|