From padlocks to pens: Loved-up tourists graffiti iconic Paris bridge

The iconic Pont des Arts in Paris might be free of "love locks" but tourists are finding a new way of leaving their mark on the bridge over the Seine.

From padlocks to pens: Loved-up tourists graffiti iconic Paris bridge
Photo: AFP

The bridge was finally cured of the long term scourge of love locks back in 2015, when the City Hall replaced the railings with glass panels.

But it seems one remedy has provoked another ailment, with some tourists so desperate to leave a sign of their love that have switched from the padlock to the pen.

Recent pictures posted on the Facebook page of the No Love Locks campaign group showed how couples were leaving messages and hearts on the perspex panels.

Lisa Anselmo, Co-founder, No Love Locks told The Local: “The tagging of the Pont des Arts just makes more obvious what we’ve been saying all along: this is about willful destruction of historic places, and a disrespect for Parisians. Locks or pens, it’s the same sickness: ego.”
The pictures, which included one couple being caught in the act, sparked anger with many commenters slamming the tourists as “vandals”.

“Would people do this in their home town/city? What makes them think it’s OK just because they are away from home? An on-the-spot fine should be introduced,” wrote one angry commenter.

Another wrote: “Really cannot believe the disgusting disgraceful behaviour of some people …. go away and vandalise your own town or city.”

Others pointed the finger at the police and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.

“What is wrong with the police? They can't spare one officer to patrol that beautiful bridge and prevent this?,” said one.

“Mayor Hidalgo still too busy making short term apartment rentals illegal to actually take care of her city? Almost glad we never got to the Pont des Arts this visit because this would've made me insane,” added another.

The glass panels were placed on the bridge in 2015 after City Hall were finally forced to act after part of the railings collapsed under the sheer weight of the love locks.

Although they are regularly cleaned, the hefty bill is one the Town Hall could do without.

While Pont des Arts may be free of the scourge of love locks, the nearby Leopold-Sedar-Senghor footbridge is still blighted by padlocks.

City Hall has put up signs warning tourists not to place love locks on the bridge but it appears to have had little impact.






‘Love locks have made Paris a visual cesspool’

For the first of our "Reader's Rants" series, in which we offer you a platform to air your views, we hear from two Americans who have fallen out of love with Paris's love locks, claiming they are a stain on the City of Light. Respond with your own rant below.

'Love locks have made Paris a visual cesspool'
Love locks on the Pont de l'Archevêché, with Notre Dame cathedral in the background. Photo: Jimmy Baikovicius.
Lisa Anselmo and Lisa Taylor Huff, two Americans based in Paris, tell us why there is nothing romantic behind locking your love to a bridge in Paris. They are eager to hear your own views in the comments section below.

The historic bridge, the Pont des Arts, was once a serene and beautiful place in the  heart of Paris where Parisians and visitors alike came to admire the stunning views and enjoy romantic moments. Paris is the city of amour, after all.
But in 2008, a global  trend known as “love locks” (padlocks fastened to a bridge to symbolize everlasting love) began sweeping over this bridge and others, including the landmark Pont Neuf,  like a plague. Now, in 2014, these bridges have been disfigured by a thick layer of rusting, misguided “love” that has even spread to lampposts and statues.
The locks cause damage to the bridges, and people often take dangerous risks in attaching them. In addition, the presence of these locks has opened the door to graffiti and other destructive acts, turning the once-beautiful center of Paris into a visual cesspool. And while the locks pollute our views, thousands of discarded keys pollute the Seine below. 
We ask you: Is this love? 
While, at one point, the city was able to remove the locks with some regularity, the problem has now escalated beyond the capacity to efficiently manage it.
And taxpayers must repeatedly shoulder the costs of removal and repairs for damaged sections of the bridges. The situation has become insupportable, and it is clear that the current approach of “tolerance and maintenance” isn’t working. 
This problem has degraded to outright vandalism, and the sheer weight of the locks has raised safety concerns on the Pont des Arts, which was not designed to withstand the added tonnage of tens of thousands of rusting padlocks. Jean-Pierre Lecoq, current mayor of the 6th arrondissement, has voiced concerns over the impending danger of a piece of the parapet collapsing onto people on a passing barge below. 
“It’s not a  question of when,” he warns. “Sooner or later a catastrophe will happen.” We agree with him. 
We believe the problem will only cease when the Paris City Council enacts and enforces an outright ban on “love locks,” permanently removing the plague from our bridges. 
Let us tell city officials to act now to reclaim and restore these public spaces for the enjoyment of all—and in so doing, return true romance to the soul of Paris. 
Lisa Anselmo (left) and Lisa Taylor Huff (right) are so fed up with love locks that they have founded the No Love Locks campaign. For more information you can visit their website by clicking here or check out their Facebook page
If you want to sign their petition calling for the love locks to be removed then CLICK HERE.
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Reader's Rants: Do you want to get something off your chest about anything to do with life in France in 500 or so words? Whether it's positive or negative, good or bad, why not share your views with our readers. Send us your ideas for your own rant to [email protected] and we will be happy to consider them.