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June 9, 2015updated 30 Jul 2021 10:34am

Paris has replaced the padlocks on the Pont des Arts with padlock-themed graffiti

By City Monitor Staff

Bridges seem pretty sturdy, right? Considering they’re built to take the weight of lots of humans at once, you’d imagine they’d be able to withstand a few love tokens dropped off by romantic tourists.

Unless, of course, they’re lumbered with 45 tonnes of them.

Such is the unfortunate fate of the Pont des Arts, a Parisian pedestrian bridge linking the Louvre to the south bank of the river. It’s become tradition for loved up visitors to the French capital to mark their initials on a padlock, then hook it onto the bridge’s railings. This has proved so popular that the bridge is now subject to structural weakening, and in the case of one section of railing, collapse.

The Parisian authorities have tried to dissuade tourists, and the padlock sellers swarming the bridge, with a “selfies, not padlocks” campaign. But this, unsurprisingly, doesn’t seem to have caught on. 

So now they’ve been forced to take drastic measures. Earlier this month, cranes began detaching sections of the bridge’s railings, padlocks and all, and carting them away for disposal:

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In September, new plexiglass sheets will be installed – but for now, wooden boards designed by Parisian graffiiti artists have taken the place of the padlocks. As you can see, several have taken the opportunity to riff on the tradition: 

One couple who left a love-lock on the bridge last year wrote a response to the move on GMA, a Filipino news site, and seemed relatively unfazed by the fact that a symbol of their love will be unceremonially chucked away: “The tradition may be over, but the love certainly continues.”


All images: Getty.

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