So you're in Paris, feeling romantic and you want to declare your everlasting love for your partner. And a fantastically cheap option sounds like attaching a love lock to the famous Pont des Arts, right?
Tourists chaining their love locks to the famous Paris bridge have resulted in the Town Hall closing the bridge this week as they remove one million locks, which they claim had become a danger to the public.
So what are all those love-struck couples going to do in Paris now? No need to fret, here's our pick.
1) See yourself in cartoon
Head to Place du Tertre in the middle of Montmartre in the north of the city and seek out one of the numerous artists offering caricatures. They're extremely talented, and will leave you with a memory much stronger than a forgotten lock on a bridge. They usually work for donation, so if you think the sketch is worth €5 then you've paid the same amount as a love lock anyway.
2) Skim stones with Amélie
(Photo: Loïc Lagarde/Flickr)
Remember the famous stone skimming scene from Amélie? No? Check the clip below. Anyway, this famous scene was filmed on the Canal Saint Martin that heads up through the 10th arrondissement. If you're really into skimming stones then bring a few along, but we recommend a romantic stroll along the lovely canal locks (water raising locks, not padlocks) in the footsteps of French film's most favourite daughter.
3) Ride the Roundabout of Romance
They say the best way to test your love is to go on holiday, but we disagree. Take your loved one and two Velib bikes to the roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe, where 12 avenues meet in what can only be described as chaos on steroids. There are cars, motorbikes and bikes all vying for a place. And there is you and your loved one, if you both dare, cycling through it all. Around and around like crazy lovers. If you make it through, your love is destined to last. Bonus points for a tandem bike. (Extra bonus point if you noticed the three jets in the photo above.)
4) Brunch on a boat (or Champagne)
On the north side of the Bassin de la Villette, an artificial lake that connects the Canal de l'Ourcq and the Canal Saint-Martin, you and your partner can rent out an electric boat from Marin d'Eau Douce.
The cheapest option is €40 for an hour (only the price of eight love locks), but the cost decreases on a per/hour basis the longer you take it. Take a bottle of bubbly and you'll wonder why you ever wanted to throw a key in a river.
Or you could enjoy a Sunday morning brunch.
5) A cocktail bar with a view
There's a saying suggesting the best view of Paris is from the Montparnasse Tower because it's the only place in the capital where you can't see the tower itself. A bit harsh, perhaps (and quite frankly, a blatant theft of a Guy de Maupassant quote, who said the same thing about the Eiffel Tower). Back on track – head to this tower for a fantastic view and an expensive cocktail at the top. But it's worth it – how often are you 210 metres above Paris?
6) Waterfall kiss
(The waterfall is part of the grotto. Photo: tmerrill/Flickr)
Head to the Buttes Chaumont park in the 19th arrondissement for a stolen kiss beneath the waterfall. Why? Because why not. They've gone to the trouble of building an entire artificial grotto in the style of the romantic English landscape gardens of the 18th and 19th century, complete with an artificial waterfall – the least you could do is have a little kiss underneath it. While you're there, take a stroll up to the Temple de la Sibylle, a mini version of the ancient Roman Temple of Vesta in Italy's Tivoli.
7) Picnic in the oldest square
After you're done with your shopping in the trendy Marais area, head for a picnic for two in the Place des Vosges in the fourth arrondissement. It's the oldest and arguably the most beautiful square in Paris, and undoubtedly the perfect place to find a bench for two to enjoy a light wine, cheese and baguette lunch. Feel like impressing your loved one? Try out this fun fact about the square – it's a true square, measuring 140 by 140 metres.
8) Rent a Citröen
(Photo: 4 Rues sous 1 Parapluie/Facebook)
And lastly, why not spend a day in a vintage convertible Citröen CV2? You even get your own driver, French of course, who wears a striped Breton shirt and who'll take you anywhere in the capital that you desire. Rates begin at around €120 an hour, so make sure you know where you want to go. One company that runs tours is called 4 Rues sous 1 Parapluie – more information here.
Finally if after all that you are still insistent on buying padlock, we recommend the best thing you can do with it is use it to lock the zip of your partner's bag so he/she doesn't fall victim to the pesky pickpockets.
Nothing breaks the romantic mood in Paris quite like realizing you have had your passport and purse pinched.