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Just find another way: Paris tells lovers to ditch love-locks

Paris is having another go at urging tourists to stop locking their love to the city's bridges.

Just find another way: Paris tells lovers to ditch love-locks
Photo: AFP

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.

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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