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Paris begins removal of a million love locks

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Paris begins removal of a million love locks
The "Pont des Arts" in Paris got a makeover on Monday. Photo: AFP
17:03 CEST+02:00
Paris, known worldwide as the city of romance, on Monday began the process of removing nearly one million "love-locks", padlocks chained to the city's bridges by love-struck couples. Many in the city say the "heart-breaking" move is long overdue.
Yellow-vested officials were out early Monday morning on the city's iconic Pont des Arts, wielding cutting equipment to free the padlocks while a handful of curious tourists looked on.
   
Loved-up visitors from around the world have for years written their name on padlocks to symbolise their passion, then tossed the key into the River Seine so that nothing could ever break the bond.
   
Or at least, that's what they thought.
 
 
   
What is for couples a harmless act of passion is for city authorities a potentially dangerous headache.
   
Last year police hurriedly ushered tourists off the Pont des Arts when a section of the footbridge collapsed under the weight of the locks covering the 155-metre-long bridge.
 
 
   
Plastic panels were put up in places to deter lovebirds and authorities launched a drive to get tourists to upload selfies instead of attaching a lock.
   
But nothing stands in the way of true love, and tourists have kept piling the locks on the bridge and elsewhere, forcing authorities to take drastic measures.
   
"We will remove nearly one million padlocks, or 45 tonnes," said city official Bruno Julliard, criticising the "ugliness" of the locks on some of
Paris's most beautiful bridges.
 
"Paris should stay capital of love. Couples should carry on declaring their love, proposing marriage, maybe on the Pont des Arts, but... just not by using a love-lock," added Julliard.
 
A 27-year-old Swedish woman who lives in Paris said the bridge was cordoned off and that crowds were flocking to the bridge to see what was happening.
 
"It was quite busy down there, there were police on the bridge, French media pressing in, and tourists who were taking pictures," she told The Local.
 
 
"I think they wanted to get one last look at the love locks before they're gone."
 
The Swede added that she'd favour a flower anyday over a padlock. 
 
"It's all a bit touristy for my taste anyway. I think it started out cute, but just ended up becoming a pest. I'd much prefer someone to give me a flower."
   
While the trend of attaching locks to the Pont des Arts began in 2008, the problem is not unique to Paris.
   
It is unclear where the idea of using the lock ritual to symbolise love originated, but the padlocks bearing lovers' initials have spread from European capitals to as far as Marrakech and China.
 
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