If you were planning a trip to Paris to memorialize your eternal love by attaching a lock, or un cadenas (uhn kad-ah-nay), to the Pont des Arts, you are too late. The city has had it with what many consider visual pollution and a safety hazard. In case you’re unfamiliar with this tradition, for several years now, people have written their names on locks, attached them to the grille-work of the bridge, and thrown away the keys. It seems charming and harmless, but lock after lock, the weight has become dangerous. Last year, part of the Pont des Arts grille was peeled off like a banana skin. So, on June 1, workers began removing what is estimated to be one million locks weighing 45 tons.
How will they keep them from being reattached by every Romeo and Juliet who visits Paris? The metal grill will be replaced with glass panels. Asking nicely hadn’t worked. City officials had been imploring lovers to post a selfie on-line instead of attaching a lock to no avail. Some Americans living in Paris even started a “No Love Locks” campaign. Where did this trend come from? An Italian teen novel published in 2006 featured Roman lovers swearing eternal love by attaching a lock to a bridge and throwing the keys in the Tiber. Since then, the trend has popped up in cities around the world, but nowhere the way that it took off in Paris. Ah Paris, the City of Lights, the City of Love, but no longer the City of Locks.