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Visiting France

Paris bridge weighed down by love

media The Pont des Arts with its padlocks, Paris Nadine/p'tite nad 2A/Flick'r/CC

Thousands and thousands of lovers’ padlocks now decorate many Paris bridges, in what has become a new tradition among romantic tourists visiting the French capital.

The phenomenon of attaching little padlocks to the parapets of the Pont des Arts bridge across the capital’s River Seine began in 2008 and over the last five years, lovers have also left their mark on other bridges and spots nearby.

“The problem is that there are more and more padlocks and it is starting to cause the fencing and parapets to sag on the Pont des Arts”, says Jean-Pierre Lecoq, Mayor of the VI arrondissement, where the bridge is located.

There are so many that some are attached to each other because there is no room on the parapet.

“The danger is that one day a piece of the parapet, heavy with several kilos of padlocks, falls down onto one of the river cruise boats below and hurts someone seriously, or even kills them,” worries M. Lecoq.

Recently little posters have been stuck on the bridge saying that anyone attaching a padlock will face a 20 euro fine, but no one at the official Paris authorities knows who put the posters up.

Jean-Pierre Lecoq suggests that the padlocks be removed at regular intervals, roughly every six months so that they do not become too heavy.

But Paris City Hall authorities say they have no plans at the moment to take any action.
“We think its rather lovely,” said an official. “When we feel that there is a safety issue we will remove some of the padlocks from areas where there might be a danger. We are not going to remove all the padlocks from any one of the bridges”.

Some people travel thousands of miles to attach their padlocks and pledge their love on the bridge in the hope that it will last forever.

“They mustn’t be removed. It’s a symbol of love. It would be better to strengthen the bridge,” said one Australian tourist posing with her boyfriend in front of the padlock they had just attached, promising eternal love.

 

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