My very good friend, Lisa Anselmo, wrote such a great blog post this week, and I think all of you who may be planning to visit Paris in the near (or distant) future need to read this. Please. As a favor to me. And to Paris. Read it NOW:
You might not have known that a trend now called "Love Locks" started some time in the past five years here in Paris; I can't give you a precise time, but definitely AFTER my first two years here, which would mean some time around late 2008 or 2009. It started innocently enough: a couple of lovers decided to put a padlock on the wire mesh side of the Pont des Arts, the very simply designed pedestrian bridge over the Seine that provides my ALL-TIME FAVORITE VIEW of the Ile de la Cité, Pont Neuf and Notre Dame. They put the lock there -- with their names and the date scribbled on it -- to symbolize their love, and then they tossed the key into the Seine. Probably while kissing.
Ah, love. How sweet.
Someone else eventually noticed this, thought it was a fabulous idea, and decided to do the same. Then someone else did it, and another couple, and then dozens... hundreds... THOUSANDS of other couples since. See the photos in Lisa's post, and you'll get the idea. What started out as something adorable has turned into an eyesore, a danger to the bridges themselves (those damn locks are HEAVY when you add them all up) and to the environment of the Seine which is already polluted enough, merci beaucoup, and doesn't need thousands of keys thrown in. The locks were initially confined to the Pont des Arts and the city periodically cut them all off, but then more and more kept coming. Frankly the city just wasn't able to keep up with all those tourists with their padlocks -- should our tax euros go to paying several guys to go out there on the bridges with bolt cutters every week to cut off these stupid locks? -- and now the trend has spilled over to any other bridge where it is possible to put a padlock.
It's nauseating. Because what was supposed to be something cute, sweet and loving has turned into an abomination. Yes, I DID say "abomination" and that is not a word I use lightly. These locks are killing something very special about Paris. They add nothing of value, and in fact they detract from everything people claim to love about the city. It may have begun as a loving gesture -- we get it: you're in Paris in love and you're in the moment -- but now? It's nothing more than ugly graffiti.
That is not "love". That's VANDALISM. And it is both selfish and short-sighted.
So on behalf of native Parisians and all the transplants like me who live here, and the many visitors who DON'T find it necessary to deface public property in the name of declaring their love; for all those who adore this city and all the beauty it offers -- especially all those timeless classic views along the Seine, I say to you: if you truly love Paris and you want to be in love in Paris, please - we are BEGGING you - find some other, more original way to express that love. Leave the damn locks at home, on your bikes, your school lockers, your garden shed doors - where they really belong.
I want my favorite view back, please.
See how lovely it was, without all the ugly clutter of "love" locks spoiling that classic view?