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Love Locks of Paris

Love locks


Love locks

 Love locks

Sweethearts engrave their names on a padlock, attach it to a Parisian bridge and toss the key into the Seine, creating a symbol of their everlasting love which will never be broken.

Depending on your point of view, this is either a wonderfully romantic gesture or a selfish act of vandalism.  

Many people assume this popular ritual is an ancient French tradition. In fact, the French certainly didn't start it and most Parisians would love it to stop! 

The very first love locks were created in Serbia about 100 years ago.  During World War One, Nada, a local schoolmistress, fell in love with Relja but no sooner had they pledged their love for each other, when Relja was sent to war in Greece. Sadly for Nada, she was quickly forgotten as her sweetheart fell in love with a woman from Corfu and broke off their engagement.

Nada never recovered and died some time afterwards, reportedly of a broken heart.  The young women from Nada’s home town of Vrnja─Źka Banja wanted to protect their own affairs of the heart. They started engraving their names, with the names of their loved ones, on padlocks and affixing them to the railings of the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet.

Love padlocks started appearing throughout Europe in the early 2000’s. In Rome, these symbols of love began appearing on the bridge Ponte Milvio, copying the actions of characters in the 2006 young adult novel, “Ho Voglia de Te” (I Want You) by Italian author, Federico Moccia.  

However, it is in Paris, renown as one of the most romantic cities in the world, where the ritual of love locks became an obsession.  Many tourists mistakenly believe this is a longstanding Parisian tradition, not realizing the practice only took hold in Paris in late 2008 after affecting cities in Italy andAsia.

Far from being a local tradition, most French find the idea of "locking" love to be ridiculous.  Rather than a symbol of romance, many French consider the practice to be selfish vandalism, showing no respect for the beautiful architecture of the bridges. And of course, it is their taxes that have to pay for the locks to be removed and the bridges to be repaired.

On June 9th, 2014, the weight of the padlocks on the Pont Des Arts bridge were blamed for the collapse of part of the parapet.  The panel, overcrowded with locks, weighed an unruly 680kg and with 110 similar panels on the bridge, locks could contribute a whopping 74 tonnes extra to the structure.

While plywood has been used on some panels, they are a target for graffiti.  Paris is experimenting on the worst affected bridges, the Pont des Arts and the Pont de l’Archevêché, replacing panels with different types of glass to prevent locks from being attached.   

Declarations of love in Paris will never go out of style, but it would be wonderful to see lovers pledge their devotion without putting the cities stunning bridges at risk. 


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