Love may know no bounds, but Paris intends to instill some: authorities are going to take a tougher line with swooning couples attaching “love-locks” to city bridges as a sign of their undying devotion.
In June last 2015 authorities removed hundreds of thousands of such padlocks from the city bridges, notably the Pont des Arts which had a section collapse under the weight of the locks.
The wire mesh panels on which the love-locks were attached were replaced by perspex. Authorities have also been carrying out a similar transformation of the Pont de l’Archevêché.
However this has not dissuaded tourists who have turned their attention to the statues on the historic Pont de Neuf.
The railings on the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor are also covered in padlocks and the phenomenon has spread to the bridges over the Canal Saint-Martin, made famous in the film Amelie.
In fact any fence or lampost near the water seems to be a magnet for the metal locks.
A previous post campaign by Paris town hall encouraged loved-up tourists to take selfies and post them online rather than lock their love to a bridge but it failed to ease the problem.
Paris deputy mayor Bruno Juillard said “signboards” would be installed on the bridge and others in French and English, with messages such as “No locks, Paris thanks you” and “Find another way to show your love.”
“We want Paris to remain the capital of romance and love, that lovers from across the world come to Paris. It is a very romantic city and particularly the River Seine, but we must also protect this heritage,” said Juillard.
Loved-up visitors from around the world have for years written their names or initials on padlocks to symbolise their passion, then tossed the key into the River Seine so that nothing could ever break the bond.
In summer 2014 police had to hurriedly usher 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.
Lisa Anselmo who runs the pressure group No Love Locks has said in the past the authorities must use the law to end the problem.
The only way the city is going to get a handle on this is to ban it,” Anselmo told The Local. “They need to start fining people but I think they are afraid to come across as unwelcoming to tourists,” she said.