I have bad news for all you hopeless romantics/cliché tourists looking for some prime Instagram material. The famous “love locks” in Paris have been removed, thus confirming two things we’ve always known: love is not eternal and French people fucking hate you.
In 2008, people began writing the names of themselves and their significant other/study abroad buddy/favorite John Green quote on padlocks and attaching them to the Pont des Arts and then throwing the key into the Seine below. The Pont des Arts is a pedestrian foot bridge in Paris that connects the Institut de France and the central square of the Palais du Louvre, and from what my basic research tells me it did not have any romantic historical significance that prompted this trend. People just woke up one day and decided that they needed a physical representation of their relationship and thought defaming a historical monument was the best way to do it. Tattoos are so passé.
It turns out that Parisian city officials were not psyched about this trend. By 2014 there were an estimated 700,000 locks on the bridge and they were beginning to cause significant infrastructural damage. The railing partially collapsed last June, at which point even the French recognized that they should pause their strenuous schedule of drinking wine all day to do something about it. Their solution? A social media campaign, because nothing says “we’re not passive we swear” like throwing a hashtag at people and hoping for the best.
In August 2014 the mayor’s office launched the “Love Without Locks” campaign, which urged tourists to commemorate their devotion to each other with a selfie rather than destroying a historical site. The collective response to this must have been an overwhelming “nah,” because the situation didn’t improve. There was also a petition floating around that has since garnered over 10,000 signatures but is still 5,000 short of it’s goal. Again, a solution that is solid in theory but not so much in practice, kind of like the Maginot Line. Don’t worry, Paris, you’ll figure it out one day.
One June 1st approximately 45 tons of locks were removed from the Pont des Arts and they will eventually be replaced with padlock proof glass. After this bridge is finished, they will move on to the rest of the padlock covered bridges strewn about the city, because I guess tourists aren’t really picky about what they deface in the name of love. Don’t worry, you can still go take pictures of the Eiffel Tower sitting in the palm of your hand, so your trip won’t be a total waste.