Paris (Day1) — They sure do love love, lovers and over-the-top displays of affection here in Paris.
However, it seems the eternal & undying love of tens of thousands of romantic couples – including Susan and me – became a bit too much and was about to destroy a famous bridge built during the reign of Napoleon I.
Our story begins in 2010. We’re in Paris before and after our bike trip to the Loire. We walk across the pedestrian Pont des Arts (it crosses the Seine near the Louvre) and notice that people have started putting locks on the grillwork of the bridge.
Turns out they’re locks of love. A trend that’s picking up steam – and lots and lots of locks. But not so many locks that you couldn’t find a prime spot.
What the heck … Susan and I are just as romantic and in love as all these other couples. Even if we’re not French. So, we got a lock and did what you’re supposed to do: Scratched our initials onto it, attached it to the bridge, kissed and tossed the key into the Seine. This way, our love will last forever.
We positioned our lock on the east side of the Pont des Arts, right in the middle, with a great view across the water to the tip of the little island that juts out into the Seine. This used to be the most famous make out/romantic spot in all of Paris before the whole lock-of-love-bridge thing started.
“This way, we’ll be able to find our lock of love the next time we’re here,” I said (naively, it turns out).
Cut to 2013 and we’re back in Paris before and after a bike trip to Provence.
We head over to the Pont des Arts and …
Holy crap … it’s like a lock factory, make that 100 lock factories, exploded and all the locks landed on the Pont des Locks, I mean Arts. There are locks everywhere, 10,12, 15 deep. Locks locked to locks locked to 12 more rows of locks. From one side of the bridge to the other and on both sides.
There must have been 20 locks on top of our lock, but knowing it was still there, buried beneath all this love, filled us with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Then again, maybe all the wine we had with dinner was responsible for the warm, fuzzy feeling. Nah, I’m sticking with the first one.
Turns out there were about 45 tons worth of locks and it was beginning to damage the bridge. So, yes: Love hurts. Or at least 45 tons of love hurts.
“City workers, using a crane and wheeled dollies, began to dismantle the wire mesh panels on which hundreds of thousands of lovers expressed their affections in what they thought would be an ironclad statement: a metal lock, usually etched with the couple’s initials, attached to the bridge, and the key tossed into the Seine below.
“Bruno Julliard, the deputy mayor in charge of culture, who supervised the removal of the locks, tried to be sensitive to the feelings of those who had placed them there, saying that Paris was still “the capital of love, the capital of romance.”
The grillwork was replaced with lock-proof plexiglass.
Today, I walked over to the Pont des Arts, knowing there would be no locks, and…
There it was … in pretty much the same spot where our lock of love once lived … was the word “love” written in vibrant and romantic red.
Hah! Nobody, not even Bruno, can stop all the love. And lovers.
Susan doesn’t get to Paris for another couple of weeks, so I have plenty of time to think up a new & romantic Paris tradition. Then again, Bruno may still be in charge of culture and love, so maybe we should start a new tradition on top of Mount Ventoux.