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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.