Too much romance in Paris

Too much romance in Paris

Commitment is not always a ball and chain; in Paris it’s a padlock. On the Pont des Arts, thousands of romantic couples lock their promise to the railings of the bridge creating a dilemma for the authorities.

Couples in love have taken this relatively new tradition to heart. They write their names on a padlock, lock it securely to the bridge and then throw the key into the Seine river below. The setting is wonderful, the backdrop of the river and the Parisian skyline couldn’t lend a more romantic frame to the prospect of everlasting love.

On a practical level, however, the accumulation of all these metal objects creates a safety hazard. Le Figaro reported this week that the authorities are considering measures to curb the practice. There is more than one concern. First it’s the weight of the padlocks that weakens the barriers that could pose a hazard should the sides come apart when a boat is sailing under the bridge or as a pedestrian is walking across. The second concern, more surreal, is that there have been repeated cases of theft of entire panels. Apparently the opportunist crooks are selling them for the value of the metal. The missing barriers are immediately replaced by temporary wood panels as soon as the theft is spotted, and new grills are installed shortly thereafter at considerable expense to the commune.

So the challenge is to ensure the safety of the bridge without banning the practice completely, as Paris prides itself to be the world’s most romantic city and no city official wouldn’t want to risk being perceived as the grinch who stole romance. Perhaps they should encourage the imitation of the tradition in Fatehpur Sikri in India, where believers make a wish by tying a string or a ribbon to the marble lattice of Salim Chishti.

photo by

Les amoreux, could you use a length of string instead of a metal padlock? There. Problem solved, Paris!

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Sylvia is a freelance journalist based in France, focusing on business and culture. A valued member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia is a regular contributor to our publication.

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  • [poll] Two Americans spearhead citizen petition to ban love locks in Paris. Right or wrong? | The FrenchEntrée blog
    2014-04-08 19:09:18
    [poll] Two Americans spearhead citizen petition to ban love locks in Paris. Right or wrong? | The FrenchEntrée blog
    […] that two are now bound as one, forever. Romantic and optimistic, agreed, but in my prevous post “too much romance in Paris” I had discussed how this practices poses a condundrum for the […]


  • suttonharlow
    2013-10-15 13:43:35
    I was wondering if this was a new fad. I haven't been to Paris in about 8 years and i don't remember ever seeing this.


    • Sylvia Davis, Property & Living Editor
      2013-10-18 08:05:04
      Sylvia Davis, Property & Living Editor
      Yes, I think it's relatively new. There was an article in the news about it in 2010 when an artist apparently removed a large number of these padlocks in the middle of the night, to use in a sculpture. People assumed they had been removed by the city. So it must have started right after your last visit. Time to come back to Paris!


      • suttonharlow
        2013-10-18 18:52:56
        No kidding. The book I'm writing is set in Paris so I'm spending hour upon hour thinking about and missing it.