The “Love Lock Workshops” is a group offering guided tours of the love lock bridges in Paris, complete with personalized padlocks, live music, fine wine – and a €170 price tag.
But in recent weeks, the group has been bombarded with bad reviews and aggression from people outraged at the romanticism of “metal graffiti”. The comments were sparked by a posting from a Paris-based blogger who launched a campaign to close the company down.
“The people who keep harassing us about this tour are really aggressive, disrespectful and insulting,” Léo Kavernicol, the founder of the workshop, told The Local.
She added that the 1,500 or so people who attacked her Facebook page were being unfair.
“We can't find any laws forbidding decorating padlocks. Nor hanging them. But we don't hang anything,” she said.
Kavernicol and her husband had been selling the locks for years, starting at the Pont des Arts, which had 45 tonnes of the locks removed last year by authorities. The railings were then replaced by glass panels.
“When the railings were replaced, we noticed lovers started hanging their symbol anywhere in the city, even on churches,” Kavernicol said.
“Since then, we have been advising our customers to keep their lock with them to hang it up on their house. We also recommend they keep one key each as a souvenir, to avoid throwing them in the Seine River and polluting it.”
She added that lovers “usually” keep hold of their lock rather than risk it being removed by authorities.
The Pont des Arts before the locks were removed. Photo: AFP
Kavernicol compares the love locks to street art or carving names into trees, pointing out that all are considered vandalism by some, and art by others.
“In such a violent world as the one we live in, celebrating love feelings seems necessary and salutary to me,” she said.
Paris-based American Lisa Anselmo, who set up the No Love Locks preservation group, told The Local that the group's existence was “unacceptable”.
“Profiting from vandalism and degradation of the city's historic landmarks – even after the mayor has made it clear locks are not acceptable – is morally bankrupt,” she said on Thursday.
“These guys only care about themselves, and at the expense of the taxpayers, and their heritage. We will be alerting our contact in the mayor's office. Enough is enough.”