No Love Locks™ was founded in January 2014 by two friends—both named Lisa—who have chosen to call Paris home, and who have become increasingly concerned about the damage being caused by the tens of thousands of heavy locks being attached to several of the city’s historic bridges spanning the Seine River in Paris.
Lisa Anselmo, a New Yorker who also now calls Paris her home, kicked things off with a post on her blog, My (Part-time) Paris Life, entitled “Dear Tourists: Please Unlock Your Love.” This post has received over 3000 page visits and has been shared widely across social media.
Lisa Taylor Huff, a freelance writer from NJ, has been living in Paris since 2006 and has dual US-French citizenship. Lisa is a memoirist, a Paris expat blogger and travel writer; she has also ghostwritten several books for others, and in 2006 published “The Writing Coach’s Guide to FINALLY Writing Your Book!” (iUniverse 2007). She has just completed a memoir inspired by her 10-year-old blog, The Bold Soul, about how she decided to boldly change her life and move to Paris at the age of 45, where she found the life and love she always wanted. Lisa met her French husband, Georges, in Paris in 2007 and it was love at first sight! Lisa describes why she decided to partner with long-time friend Lisa Anselmo to co-found No Love Locks: “Georges and I spent our first Valentine’s Day together having a picnic on the Pont des Arts in 2008, just before there were any locks, and we were married later that year. My connection to the Pont des Arts runs very deep, dating back to my first visit to Paris in 1998, and leading up that first romantic picnic with Georges. It was once my favorite view of Paris, but the vandalism caused by too many locks and disrespectful tourists have destroyed both the view and my memories. So for me, the No Love Locks campaign is very personal, both for myself as a Parisian and for my three French step-children; after all, these historic bridges and beautiful city center are their cultural heritage.”
The overwhelmingly positive reaction these two Parisiennes received from readers around the globe encouraged them to join forces in educating the public about this “love locks” trend, which has been spreading to cities around the world. Although Paris is one of the more well-known places experiencing a “love locks” epidemic, the problem is not uniquely or even originally Parisian (contrary to popular myth, this is NOT a French “tradition”), and city officials from Moscow to Melbourne and from Rome to New York are struggling to deal with damage to bridges and other negative side effects from a trend that begins innocently as a romantic gesture for couples seeking a way to commemorate their affection and their attachment to a particular place. Unfortunately, the historic bridges of Europe and around the world aren’t feeling the “love” at all, nor are the citizens of the cities who are burdened with maintenance costs from a trend that has escalated out of control.
Paris has certainly been the most excessively impacted by this trend. The City of Love has turned into the City of LOCKS. As of this writing, there are at least 11 bridges over the Seine and four pedestrian bridges over the Canal Saint Martin where padlocks are spreading (approaching 1 million city-wide, with hundreds more being attached every day), and they have now even been expressly banned from the Eiffel Tower due to safety issues. The visual and ecological pollution, the sheer ugliness of hundreds of thousands of locks (and their keys, thoughtlessly tossed into the Seine), and the total lack of “responsible tourism” and consideration shown by those who attach these locks to these historic bridges and monuments, has fired the passions of Parisians and visitors alike. It is no longer only “couples” tradition; now families, friends and singles are attaching hundreds of locks every day to the bridges of Paris, simply because they think it’s “a cool thing to do while in Paris”! Furthermore, the area of the Seine River where the impacted bridges are located is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in addition, three of the impacted bridges are also historically classed by the city of Paris itself – including the one most notoriously covered by between 60-90 metric tons of locks, the Pont des Arts, which spans the river between the Louvre and the Institut de France. This once peaceful and romantic spot, where Parisians met for romantic picnics and people could sit quietly and admire the beautiful 360-degree views of the very heart of Paris, has now become nothing more than a circus spectacle. The bridge is covered from end-to-end with graffiti and with layers upon layers of rusting padlocks; illegal locks vendors profit by selling padlocks for 7-10€ apiece and often will deliberately damage panels of the bridge so that the city is forced to remove and replace locks-covered panels more frequently and so that they, the vendors, can then sell more locks to crazed tourists. Parisians are horrified by the scene, and now avoid going there altogether. Why should the residents of Paris be unable to enjoy their own architectural heritage, and also be expected to pay (through our taxes) for the constant replacement of bridge panels whenever the excessive weight of the locks causes them to collapse?
Love is a wonderful thing, but it is no excuse for vandalizing a city’s historic structures and public places! Our campaign urges the protection of the patrimoine (the heritage) of Paris as well as the proaction of the Seine, an already polluted river, and a return to responsible tourism by the 32+ million visitors who visit Paris each year as well as by the tourism industry in general. It’s time to stop encouraging tourists to desecrate bridges in the name of love, and show a little love to Paris itself!
- To educate the public about the negative effects of placing locks on public spaces and fragile historic structures
- To seek out and suggest less destructive (and more original) ways for lovers and others to commemorate special moments—because we still believe in celebrating love and life
- To support, wherever feasible, the efforts of city administrators—in Paris and elsewhere—in finding solutions for the removal and prevention of the locks, and to promote any legislation that would ban or restrict this act of vandalism
On March 9, 2014, with upcoming Mayoral and City Council elections, we launched a petition to encourage others to support a city-wide “love locks” ban in Paris. You don’t need to be French or live in Paris to have YOUR voice heard: Sign today and share it with your social network around the world! The petition is available in the following languages: English | Français
While our efforts are mainly focused on protecting the architectural heritage of Paris, we welcome input and dialogue with other cities that have been trying to cope with this problem. We also welcome your comments and suggestions about ways in which we can turn this trend around and reclaim the historic bridges and beautiful river views that have been lost due to the Love Locks.
Check back often to learn more about the progress we’re making in Paris and elsewhere, and to find out how you can help us spread the message and remove the locks.
- Web site & Blog: NoLoveLocks.com (in English and French)
- Press page: NoLoveLocks.com/presse
- Facebook: Facebook.com/NoLoveLocks
- Twitter: www.Twitter.com/NoLoveLocks
- Email: NoLoveLocks (at) gmail (dot) com
Join our movement, and help to free our historic bridges and beautiful public spaces from the “love”!
Lisa and Lisa