Locks on Paris Bridges are Meant to Lock Romantics’ Love in Place


What’s not to love about Paris, even in the winter? See my reflective post on Paris before I jumped on a plane earlier this December.

I’ve been there countless times and yet I always see something new, or something old in a new way, often the latter.

Somehow I don’t remember the locks….the locks of love that is. Attached to Paris’ most iconic bridges, thousands of people left small padlocks behind, meticulously attached to the metal railings, as if each person planned whose padlock they wanted theirs to be next to.

Apparently, according to a few sources I looked at, people eventually started to become more visible about doing it and when — once late in the evening turned into anytime of day, then photographing or videotaping their experience. Once they attached their padlock, some would toss the keys into the Seine over the bridge. How romantic is that?

Then, the Paris town hall expressed concern over the architectural integrity of the Parisian landscape. This was likely to come up.

It has come up in other European cities, including Rome, which has a serious graffiti problem. See photographs inside a book I published on Rome that includes a number of ‘graffiti shots.’

Apparently around two years ago, all the locks on one of the bridges were removed but after a couple of months, locks of all sizes and colors reappeared. In other words, there’s passion and purpose behind this creative madness.

When there’s persistence, there’s a way. In a New York Times article which talks about the ‘lock problem,’ they talk about how annoyed Parisians have been over the clutter on their bridges and the connection of that clutter to “love.”

Says the article on how the French think about love, “to love truly is to want the other free, and this includes the freedom to walk away. Love is not about possession or property. Love is no prison where two people are each other’s slaves. Love is not a commodity, either. Love is not capitalist, it is revolutionary. If anything, true love shows you the way to selflessness. To understand love in the French style, you need to go back to the 16th century and the emergence of the libertines. If today the word means “dissolute person,” in France it has also retained its 16th-century flavor, carrying with it an air of much-envied audacity and liberty. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir famously never married and never lived together and, although a couple in the absolute sense of the term, they had lasting and meaningful relationships with strings of brilliant minds and pretty faces. They deemed jealousy bourgeois and banal.”

However you look at it, the trend continues as you can see from the shots I captured walking over the bridge, only to fall upon more later on in the day.












Most of the above shots taken Pont de L’Archeveche. If traveling to Paris, check out some of the Paris hotels we’ve covered in the past as well as this section on WBTW and for food/wine in Paris. Photos by Renee Blodgett.