Paris Attacking Love-locks Again

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Authorities clamping down but love-locks continue to flourish

Twenty tonnes of locks, fastened to the Pont de l’Archevêché in Paris over the course of several years of love, were removed by authorities just over a month ago. Some of these locks are destined to be sold at auction, the profits going to help refugees.

After the partial collapse of the Pont des Arts in June 2014 (see article here), it’s the turn of the Pont de l’Archevêché to be cleared of its weighty tradition.

The bridge is on the Île de la Cité, very close to Notre Dame Cathedral and the sudden cull was carried out early one Wednesday morning in late November. In order to prevent any lovers from re-attaching their symbols of union, transparent sheeting was fixed to the bridge immediately. According to Paris Town Hall (la Mairie de Paris), it was an urgent and necessary job as the locks were weakening the structure of the bridge.

“This guarantees satisfactory security conditions and it’s a durable solution, so we’re very satisfied with it,” said Bruno Julliard, a Mairie spokesman.

A highly specific and super-resistant type of pane was chosen for this sudden facelift: “We used a laminated type of glass which is very robust and which cannot completely break – it’s pretty much the same principal as car windscreens,” says Ambroise Dufayet, a man with the romantic-sounding job of being in charge of bridges over the Seine with the Mairie de Paris.

In the case of the Pont des Arts, the weight of love-locks was much greater (45 tonnes) but it was destined to follow the same fate, the concerns of the authorities outweighing those of lovers in Paris.

And in time-honoured fashion, love has found another way to express itself. The love-locks haven’t gone away, you know. They’ve just moved one kilometre downstream to the Léopold Sédar Senghor footbridge. Here, the lovers’ resistance has manifest itself in a new blooming of thousands of metal locks that have begun to appear. In Paris, little locks are still selling like hot cakes, despite the attention of the security authorities.

The auction of the locks will be carried out within the coming months at the Crédit Municipal in the 4th arrondissement.

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