The so-called "love locks" — padlocks engraved with couples' initials — have been attached to the metal grills on the sides of the bridge for years, as a gesture of their eternal love, but it's not a tradition that's been welcomed by locals, the majority of whom consider the huge collection of padlocks to be an eyesore.
Another reason for removing the padlocks is that a section of the bridge's fencing collapsed under their cumulative weight last summer. Yesterday the bridge was closed and council workers began the week-long task of removing the 45 tons of metal padlocks.
"Hundreds of thousands of locks are attached to certain bridges around Paris," the city council said, as reported by The Local. "This phenomenon generates two problems: a lasting degradation of the heritage of Paris and also a risk to the safety of visitors, Parisians and tourists."
The No Love Locks campaign lobbying for the removal of the padlocks was launched last year by two expats living in Paris, Lisa Anselmo and Lisa Taylor Huff. On their Facebook page last Friday they said, "Sorry, tourists, no more vandalizing our city. Finally, Paris is taking a definitive stand against 'love locks.'"
As part of the refurbishment of the Pont des Arts, the graffiti-covered plywood panels will also be removed and replaced with panels featuring artwork by international artists. Later this year plexiglass panels will be installed on the bridge, as well as on the Pont de l'Archevêché, another bridge over the Seine where "love locks" have been placed.
No announcement has been made about the future of the padlocks. "Love lock" supporters have suggested that they be featured in an art exhibition or installed in a "Love Lock" garden.
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