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Padlocks On The Pont Des Arts

I was quite impressed last year when my wife and I walked across the Pont Des Arts in Paris and saw the hundreds (if not thousands) of engraved padlocks that had been affixed to the fencing on the bridge rail. So last week, I bought a nice brass padlock and had it engraved with our names and anniversary date, and was planning to take it to Paris next month to attach it to the bridge. In talking to my bank teller, who just returned from Paris, I hear that the number of padlocks has grown so large that the city will no longer permit them to be attached to the bridge rail. Has anyone else heard of this?

Posted by
3201 posts

You can surely google and find that information. Some places are tired of having their bridges covered with all the locks and have banned them. Or they cut them off. But you could find another bridge.

Posted by
1021 posts

Impressed? I'm no more impressed by the practice than I am by graffiti on monuments and historic structures. It is an egotistical thing to do that defaces the bridge. The locks weren't there the last time I was on the Pont des Arts and hopefully will be gone if I'm lucky enough to get back.

Posted by
11507 posts

Morris, its true. They are illegal. The city has occaisonally done blitizes and removes them . They are consdering to be graffiti, most locals complain about them, and the city claims they are damaging the wire bridge part , the metal on metal rubbing times thousands of locks.
There is a very very long thread on tripadvisor.com Paris forums.. and the locals and expats that live there have gone to great lengths to explain why they are not welcome. They have posted photos and everything. I do understand why you would think it was romantic, I did too until I read the thread. sorry.

Posted by
7209 posts

As a fellow tourist I would appreciate you NOT leaving your graffiti of a padlock on the beautiful bridges of Paris. I just encountered one of the beautiful bridges with all the ugly padlocks. Please Stop! It's very similar to carving your initials into the trunk of a tree - ugly and degrading and appalling.

Posted by
1825 posts

I plan on doing some tagging while in Europe. Is it better to buy spray paint there or should I bring my own?

Posted by
8293 posts

Richard, maybe you could spray paint Morris' "nice brass padlock" for him.

Posted by
263 posts

OK, call me a romantic...I nefer thought of them as graffiti and had looked forward to seeing them on my next trip. Thanks for reminding me that sometimes what may look like a fun thing to do is in fact, not.!

Posted by
9033 posts

The Eisener Steg Bridge over the Main in Frankfurt also has 1000's of locks on it. People like it, including the Frankfurters, who are the main people putting the locks on in the 1st place. The tradition began in Italy, from a book and then a movie, and now many cities in Europe have a bridge where this is done. This is the first time I have heard that people didn't like them. My understanding about the Paris bridge was that it needed to be painted, and so they simply had to remove the locks, but also that it was making the bridge too heavy.

Posted by
11507 posts

Go on tripadvisor.com paris forums, the thread was titled " The uncivilized destruction of Paris landmarks" and was started by Metromole. Easy to find by entering that in the search box. 95% plus were totally against the locks, the others were unaware of the practice or unaware of the consequences of the action.

Posted by
33300 posts

You know how the high school quarterback feels when he gets sacked and the entire opposite team piles in on him? Imagine how he would feel if he'd never seen football and somebody just said "stand here and we'll hand the ball to you. Just stand there"? Morris has asked an innocent question, quite romantic in my opinion, and he has gone to the trouble of finding a lock and arranging the decorating of it, probably beautifully. I think he has the purest of motives. Certainly the topic isn't, and hasn't been, one over the last couple of years which has all gone one way or the other. I've seen some instances on TV where the locks were even bigged up by the TV presenter. I agree that it is modern graffiti but its obvious that Morris thought of it from a position of purity. Its fine to give him the information but can we give the poor guy a chance to get out of the pile-up?

Posted by
214 posts

Jo & Nigel...
Thanks for your kind words. Judging from the response of some members, one would think that I was planning to take a can of red spray paint and put my initials on the Arc de Triomphe and the front door of the Louvre. And for Richard: "Your next"? Your next what? Oh, wait! I get it! You mean "YOU'RE NEXT"!

Posted by
11507 posts

Actually Morris, I sympathized with you, said clearly I could understand why you considered it a romantic gesture, but Jos post actually would just mislead you, I have the correct information and was warning you,, not making fun of you or your intentions.
Take good advice when offered,, and not get defensive , you came on here and ASKED if anyone had heard of this, not only had I heard about it,, but waaay too much about it. There is a fine if caught,, it wouldn't be the end of the world,, but thought you might like to know the facts,, its is considered graffitti and punished accordingly.

Posted by
12172 posts

Morris, Thanks for proving "Virginia is for lovers." :-) I guess you have two choices. You can either sneak it onto the bridge and put in on a fence, risking possible fine or imprisonment, then imagine it stays there forever (even though it probably won't) - or you can have a nice engraved lock for your garden shed. I'll leave it up to your discretion. I agree with Nigel, it's an innocent question; lighten up - it's one thing to inform him putting a lock on the bridge isn't legal, and another to make him feel like he's a menace to society for considering it. I think whether to buy spray paint in Europe or bring your own is a great question. Personally I carry-on only and TSA wouldn't let me bring my preferred brand. Do they sell Rust-oleum in Europe?

Posted by
9033 posts

Morris could also visit a city where putting a lock of love on a bridge isn't a criminal offense and where the local population participate in doing so with great enjoyment and fun. Just because Paris feels this way, doesn't mean every city is like this.

Posted by
11507 posts

jo,, perhaps the bridges in other cities are better suited for it, physically I mean. If you bother to read the thread I suggested you would see that beside all the high emotion , a few posters listed the reasons that the city felt it would damage the bridge, over time,, and times thousands and thousands of locks.. Take a look at the photos too,, apparently others now tie pieces of plastic to the bridge too,, lovely looking.

Posted by
214 posts

Thanks, Pat, Brad & Jo. Maybe I will just put the lock on my garden shed, and wait until my wife and I travel to a city that is more tolerant of such "graffiti". I would think that if the authorities in Paris were so dead-set against these locks, they could easily discourage people from putting them on the bridge without a constant police presence or the threat of fines. All they would have to do is have a guy with a set of bolt-cutters visit the bridge two or three times a week and remove all the locks that had been placed there since his last visit. The removal of the locks in this fashion would only have to happen a dozen times or so, and then people would get the message that putting their locks on the bridge for only a day or two just wasn't worth it. And by the way, Brad...
There is a hardware store just a few doors down the street from our hotel. I'll check there for you, and see if they carry rust-oleum. Cheers!

Posted by
1021 posts

I'm afraid I have no sympathy with the argument that it is up to local authorities to clean up after tourists who decide to leave behind evidence of their existence. It is up to us who are guests in another place to behave responsibly and to think of others. Morris, it's good that you and your wife love each other, but on your travels practice the hiker's motto which applies to tourists as well, "Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footsteps." Substitute "authorized souvenirs" and "generous donations" for "memories" and "footsteps" when appropriate.

Posted by
3049 posts

Funny people are likening the locks (which I think are beautiful and had I not known from this thread that locals hated them would have considered putting one on for me and my husband as well once we finally get to take our "romantic" trip to Paris w/o family in tow...) to graffiti. The local graffiti is something I love most about urban areas France and Germany. I come from Oakland so I thought I knew graffiti art but the locals here are just incredible. One of the best things about local trains is being able to take it all in.

Posted by
9436 posts

Sarah, if you like graffiti you would love Amsterdam. I've never seen so much much graffiti in my life as there.

Posted by
11507 posts

I don't personally consider the locks graffitti, but that is just how the French have elected to catergorize it ,, so that they can define it as an offense. Technically I suppose it is "defacing public property" but its not permanent,, and its not ugly. I do think the strips of plastic they started tying to the bridge looks absolutely horrible.i think its supposed to be like tying a ribbon around a tree . But that said, I can imagine that the weight and wear and tear of thousands of locks could eventually impact the wire part of the bridge,, gotta think big picture and long term. They also say people throwing the keys in the river is not good, they have been trying to clean up the filthy Seine for years, and people constantly throwing metal in the water is not good. I know I know,, one little key , how bad could it be,, but Paris gets millions and millions of visitors each year,, it could add up if only a fraction did this.

Posted by
11507 posts

Well james,, they do have green trucks that circulate every morning and hose down the sidewalks, I find Paris very clean, but with all your experience there ( ha ha) pray tell where do you see all the poop,, I keep missing most of it. As for drunks peeing in doorways, they do that here as well a puke and shoot up, , guess in your pristine world it doesn't happen. Load of hooey. PS Dog poop is biodegradable.

Posted by
12172 posts

Along the line of what Paris locals love/hate - remember they once hated the Eifel tower as well as the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre. I love Voltaire; in one of his books he describes how, as one becomes cultured, one learns to dispise more and more things. Eventually, when one is fully cultured, they despise everything. I am now the proud parent of a nearly-fully cultured teenage daughter (but her big sister was even more cultured at the same age).

Posted by
837 posts

OMG, Morris, you are truly fortunate! You managed to sneak the caps by your defender, Nigel.

Posted by
199 posts

I think you should have some nice photos taken of you and your wife putting the lock on the bridge. Remove the lock from the bridge and take it home. Then have the photos and the lock put in a photo frame that you can display in your house. That way you can appreciate it every day and the city doesn't absorb the cost of removing your lock. Why engrave a lock, drag it thousands of miles just to leave it somewhere you can't see it? By the time you go back it's been cut off and sent to the scrap metal yard.

Posted by
11507 posts

MIKE that is a GREAT idea,, now thats using your head!