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How Paris, France's Lovers' Padlock Tradition Could Live On

How Paris, France's Lovers' Padlock Tradition Could Live On

While Paris City Hall begins to definitively remove the love padlocks that lovers from all over the world hang on the Arts Bridge (1st-4th arrondissement), an English architect says that he has found a way to rein in the problem. Colin Kovacs has come up with a project that targets the balustrade whose vertical bars would not

Love locks Pont des Arts, Paris, France

While Paris City Hall begins to definitively remove the love padlocks that lovers from all over the world hang on the Arts Bridge (1st-4th arrondissement), an English architect says that he has found a way to rein in the problem. Colin Kovacs has come up with a project that targets the balustrade whose vertical bars would not completely connect top to bottom to prevent hanging padlocks.

The remaining negative spaces would form a cross. "The cross is the original motif of the balustrade of the Arts Bridge," explains the fifty-something year old. "With this solution, the padlocks could be more easily removed each evening. And perhaps, the metal collected could be used for some purpose." Colin Kovacs could not sit back and do nothing. Since he moved to Rue Saint-Honore (1st arrondissement) two years ago, this English architect has been regularly crossing the Arts Bridge "to go to the gym or the supermarket." He is familiar with the problem that has been plaguing the bridge for some years now: the proliferation of the love padlocks and the dangers that these metal objects impose on the bridge.

In April, he announced his project to the team of the first deputy (PS) for heritage, Bruno Julliard, who has been looking for the best way to put an end to the proliferation of the love padlocks. "They called me back and showed interest," he confides.

The problem is that the municipality has already announced what will take the place of the love padlocks, whose removal will be carried out this Monday - "a temporary artistic intervention," before glass panels are installed in the fall. "The decision on the Arts Bridge has been enacted," assures City Hall, while leaving the door open to an alternative solution for the other bridges of the capital, which are "victims" of the famous padlocks: the Archeveche Bridge and the Simone-de-Beauvoir Footbridge.

Pont d'Archeveche Paris padlocks, France

A Romantic Tradition Has Become Very Cumbersome

We cannot say exactly in what country - Germany, Russia, Hungary or Italy - the tradition of hanging padlocks to symbolize love was born. It first emerged in Paris at the end of the 2000s. Initially limited to the Arts Bridge (1st - 4th arrondissement), where we can estimate that the weight of the padlocks surpasses 5 tons, it has since spread to neighboring footbridges, like the Archeveche Bridge (5th arrondissement) and the Simone-de-Beauvoir footbridge (12th arrondissement). Last summer, the dropping of a railing weighing half a ton of metal from the Arts Bridge pushed City Hall to react. The City initially encouraged tourists to take "love selfies." This was ineffective. That's why it decided to proceed with the removal of the padlocks.

The English architect for his part remains convinced that his project can be applied to the lover's footbridge. "With the glass panels, people will use pencils to write on them," he fears. "I don't think that City Hall has found the best solution yet. I hope to convince them to consider my project more carefully."

Are there special sites in your community that endure public use like these bridges? Do you think Kovacs’s solution is the right one? How would that impact the other affected bridges? Share your thoughts and city's stories in the comments area below. 

Original article, originally published in French in Le Parisien, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Bora Mici has a background in design and online writing. Most recently, she has worked as an online contributor for DC Mud, Patch.com, GoodSpeaks.org and WatchingAmerica.com, covering urban planning and visual and performing arts in the Washington, D...

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