Paris Bids Adieu To Its Famous Love Locks

Published June 8, 2015
Updated January 19, 2018
Published June 8, 2015
Updated January 19, 2018
Paris Love Locks

B. Monginoux / Landscape-Photo.net under creative commons license. Source: landscape-photo

It’s always been said that love lifts us up, but maybe that’s just because the Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris is holding all of our weight.

Measured this way, love weighs approximately 45 tons, all of which comes from the famous “love locks” that tourists have attached to the Parisian bridge. Lovers have been affixing padlocks onto the grates of this structure (and many other European bridges and landmarks) since Italian author Federico Moccia’s novel, Ho Voglia di Te (I Want You) popularized the trend in the late 2000s.

paris love locks dolly

Source: Stephane Lemouton/Associated Press

paris love locks lift

Source: Chesnot/Getty Images

Fast forward just a few years, and Paris’s “bridge of love” is crumbling under the insane amount of locks that it has accrued. City officials are now taking down the bridge’s inserts–locks and all–and temporarily replacing them with street-art panels. Later, these will be replaced again with custom plexiglass panels, so that the Seine River can once again be seen from the bridge.

paris love locks workers

Source: Stephane Lemouton/Associated Press

paris love locks cutting

Source: Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press

The grates and locks will all be relocated to storage, until the city decides what to do with the massive amount of metal. It is speculated that much of the metal will be melted down, but some sections may be donated to charities as works of art.

paris love locks overlook

Source: Stephane Lemouton/Associated Press

paris love locks deputy mayor

Deputy Mayor Bruno Julliard addresses the media about the lock removal on June 1st, 2015. Source: Stephane Lemouton/Associated Press

Tourists and locals alike gathered to watch as crews worked on the removal. One onlooker, Anthony Boccanfuso, said, “From a distance, you don’t know that they are locks. Close up, they may be visually ugly, but they tell stories. It’s like carving your names on a tree or putting your names in wet concrete. I understand the reasons for removing them, but I’m glad I saw it.”

paris love locks eiffel tower

Source: Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press

paris love locks removal tool

Source: Stephane Lemouton/Associated Press

One of those reasons–besides the damage to the historic bridge–is the concern that the heavy, lock-laden panels could give way and crash into boaters on the river.

paris love locks wheeling away

Source: Chesnot/Getty Images

paris love locks heave ho

Source: Chesnot/Getty Images

If you are one of the many owners of a lock on the Pont des Arts Bridge and want to get it back, you might be in luck. Since the news broke that the locks were being removed, Phileas Le cléateur has been removing some of the older, vintage padlocks people have shackled to the bridge. He has an Instagram account with pictures of the roughly 400 locks he has saved from an uncertain fate. If yours is one of the rescued ones, he will send it back to you as long as you provide photographic evidence that it’s yours and pay for the shipping.

paris love locks many gone

Source: Chesnot/Getty Images

Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly is a freelance writer, artist, and video editor that splits her time between the humid Midwest and the dusty corners of her mind.