The famous kissing bridge, Pont des Arts, located in Paris, France is starting to collapse from thousands of locks of love. The locks of love are padlocks placed by couples from around the world and attached to the side metal grill of the bridge. The couples make a wish and often etch their names on the lock, secure it to the bridge and toss the key into the Seine River. Pont des Arts is a footbridge which connects The Louvre Museum and The Institut de France. It has been a landmark and tourist destination since 2008, enticing lovers and dreamers with the symbolic tradition.
The tradition of the locks is widespread around Europe and dates back well into history. It is said that a young woman from Hungary, who lost her lover in WWI, returned to a bridge where she would often meet her beau, before he went off to war. She fastened a lock to a bridge as an act of sealing their love forever. The Italian author, Frederico Moccia also refers to the tradition in his book I Want You.
Pont des Arts has been featured in many television shows and movies, such as Now You See Me, heralding numerous touching scenes of promised love. The hotspot in Paris, nicknamed the City of Love, has been frequented by worldwide tourists as well as celebrities like the Kardashians. Even more recently, a version of the symbolic lock of love was displayed on the Bachelorette. As Tasos Hernandez arrived to meet Andi Dorfman for the first time, he presented her with a lock, which they attached to a fence and threw the key in a fountain.
The famous bridge was closed to pedestrians temporarily after part of the side grill started to collapse. Luckily, the damage and debris fell inward instead of onto a boat or barge on the river below. Pont des Arts was closed to visitors as the section was replaced with plywood. Further repairs will get underway in the near future. It did not take long for vandals to start scribbling their graffiti on the wooden board.
Sadly, this has been another reason to stop the tradition many tourists look forward to. Over the years, the Pont des Arts bridge has gained almost too much popularity. The pure weight from the thousands of love locks has put the structure in jeopardy. Built in 1804, Pont des Arts bridge needed to be completely rebuilt from deteriorating damage due to WW1 and WW2. The beautiful bridge was fully restored in the early 1980’s.
Although what started as a lovely tradition, the Pont des Arts bridge has become a tourist trap and an eyesore. It also poses dangers or accidents caused from people scrambling up lamp posts and hanging over the side to attach a lock. There is not much more space left to secure a new lock. Many locks have become rusty and pollution has been reported from the thousands of keys that have been thrown into the river.
With the recent collapse of a section of the Pont des Arts bridge, more attention to a petition to end the tradition is gaining momentum. The Not Love Locks campaign started last year, has more fuel for their cause. Avoiding further destruction of the historic bridge, the group already has over 8,000 signatures.
Pont des Arts bridge has collapsed, forcing many tourists to give up a symbolic way to seal their love. Despite tradition, keeping the area safe and beautiful has become a top priority for the City of Love.
By: Roanne FitzGibbon