“Love too strong for bridges to hold: Paris removes the infamous love locks”

“Love too strong for bridges to hold: Paris removes the infamous love locks”

“Love too strong for bridges to hold: Paris removes the infamous love locks”

The Mairie de France has removed the famous love locks on Pont des Arts and substituted them with graffiti art due to Parisian backlash.

Le Pont des Arts, “ the renowned love bridge of France” contains more than 100,000 lovelocks and weighs a hefty 45 tons. Determined to protect the aesthetic and security of the bridge, the Mairie de France began removing all love locks on June 1st, replacing them with graffiti art before its plexi-glass renovation.

Julian Brulliard, The Mayor of France, indicated that the removal of the love locks, however unsentimental, was necessary for security and aesthetic reasons, according to The New York Times. Constructed in the 1800s and renovated in the 1980’s, the bridge’s elegant handiwork has been destroyed time and time again by the heavy hanging of these love locks. Furthermore, the bridge posed a dangerous threat for boats passing underneath the bridge because it could crash down on them at anytime.

City officials have also indicated that the removal of these love locks will be followed up by the spray-painting of beautiful graffiti art which celebrates love. This graffiti art installation will only be temporary. All padlocks will be replaced with temporary wooden boards and local French artists will incorporate the love-lock tradition into their spray paint. In September 2015, these graffiti boards will be replaced with plexiglass sheets to allow visitors and frequenters of the bridge to glimpse the scenic view of the Seine through the bridge’s handiwork.

However, numerous campaigns, run by Parisians and the Mairie de France themselves indicate that Parisians are sick of this love-lock tradition and want it gone permanently.

The “No Love Locks” Campaign on WordPress, administered by two American-French bloggers, aims to educate the international community on the vandalization of the bridge as part of the long-lasting romantic tradition. The blog and petition feature realistic and bleak images of various Parisian bridges, incarcerated by this tradition.

The image of  le Pont des Arts is raw and unforgiving: on the left side of the panel, locks pollute the spiral-styled handiwork of the bridge and on the right side, wooden boards are inked with various “cartoon-like versions of the love locks” (most likely drawn by lovers interested in adapting an alternative way to the traditional padlock installation on these bridges).

The message is clear : Parisians and French people are tired of this tradition and want their beautiful city back.

In addition to the scrutinization of these locks by French citizens, the Mairie de France has also orchestrated a campaign, titled “Love Without Locks” on their webpage to promote the idea of love on Le Pont des Arts without these love locks. With over 600 instagrammed pictures of lovers situated on Le Pont des Arts before and after the removal of these locks, this campaign plans to foster the idea of celebrating love without damaging another country’s culture. The campaign features pictures with captions in dozens of languages, but, crucially hashtagged with the caption #lovewithoutlocks.  

Unlike the “No Love Locks” campaign that uploads bleak pictures of the Parisian bridges, the Mairie de France uploads pictures of beaming lovers and also supports their happiness with a very catchy tagline, “Our bridges aren’t capable of handling your love. Liberate them by declaring your passion for one another in this campaign.” The positivity featured in each picture is contagious and it’s no surprise why the campaign seems to be spreading its popularity around France quickly.

Brulliard seems to be keeping to his promise that Paris will still be the “capital of love, the capital of romance” after his decision to remove these locks.  

However, whilst these campaigns underline the frustration of Parisians towards these love locks, other French people feel nostalgic and remorseful towards these removals and are also enthusiastic about the new bridge

“ I think it's sad because it was a tradition to attach it but I guess they had no other choice but to remove it. I’m sure you heard the bridge could break because of them,” said Camille Grosrey, a French citizen residing in Lyon. “I can’t wait to see what they will do to replace them. By painting or doing something beautiful to it, I’m sure most people would forget the locks soon for the better.”

Camille’s wish to see something beautiful may have already appeared. The graffiti art, incorporating the lovelocks, is catchy and sweet. One image features a pink background and brown bolded words; “Love is key.” However, this will only be featured until September 2015, according to the Mairie de France. After that, plexiglass sheets will replace them and allow viewers to glimpse the Seine.

Personally, I feel the Mairie should try to incorporate this love-lock tradition into the plexiglass sheets. They should find avenues to inscribe padlocks onto these sheets without damaging their transparency or affecting the viewer’s sight. Imagine this view on the Pont des Arts : a glassed view of the Seine with love locks. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Dakshayani is currently a freshman at NYU, majoring in French and Journalism, with minors in German and English Literature. Raised in Malaysia and Australia, Dakshayani enjoys exploring gender roles across various cultures and meeting people who are passionate about the arts. Her interests are predominantly artistic, linguistic or associated with animals: theatre review, French, German, scriptwriting, violin studies, dog shelter volunteering and writing. Dakshayani enjoys learning about people’s perspective on the delicate line between gender, love and sex and is deeply passionate about this. She has a weakness for Siberian huskies and dreams of owning three one day. Besides Her Culture, Dakshayani also works as a Visual Arts Columnist for WSN's The Highlighter and maintains her own WordPress blog.

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