A Bridge Too Far

photo-60I hadn’t been paying attention to the bridges in the center of the city; I was too busy building a life in the 11th arrondissement. Then in November, I saw what had become of the Pont de l’Archevêché, a tiny bridge that connects Notre Dame with Quai de Montebello. In what seemed like mere months, it had been inundated by an infestation of locks, a dense metallic clump of “love,” that crept over the side of the bridge like a fungus. And the size of some locks was shocking—huge, some up to four inches across (10cm). Heavy bike locks had been attached to the bridge, seemingly to create an additional surface for hanging more locks since all the available meshing was used up. Graffiti had sprouted on the stone wall where locks were unable to be attached. People had taken to scratching messages in the paint on the railing. This wasn’t love. It felt like madness, like an invading army had seized the bridge. I’d known the Pont des Arts was falling prey to this mania, but now this bridge? I became like a crazy person. This was a bridge too far.

I dashed off a post on my blog, My (Part-time) Paris Life, which went viral, lighting a fire under my friend Lisa—and the rest is history. No Love Locks was born.

Uh, it's Pont de l'Archevêche last I checked folks.
Um, what now? It’s Pont de l’Archevêche last I checked, folks. (Google)

We’ve since discovered that Pont de l’Archevêché is known as “Lovelock Bridge”—say what?—and is touted as such by tour guides and Google maps alike. That’s hair-pulling stuff. Were Lisa and I the only ones who thought this was a bad idea?

Seems not. Our followers are increasing faster than we would have imagined, and we’ve already been tweeted and re-tweeted, blogged and re-blogged just a few weeks into our project. Now, the press is taking notice. Our petition (ici en français), launched on 9 March, has garnered more than 1,000 signatures in just over five days. In our latest effort, we’ve sent an open letter to the candidates for the March municipal elections in Paris, asking them for their position on the issue. We await their responses.

It’s official: We’re a movement. For those not convinced, or on the fence, stay with us; what you will see in coming posts may surprise you—and change your mind. We’re not kooks or love-haters; we’re reasonable human beings who want to protect historic structures—and the beauty of our cities—from what’s sadly become rampant vandalism. Join us, will you? Sign our petition today.
—Lisa Anselmo

Here, a few photos of what turned Les Deux Lisas into accidental activists:

Whoa, folks. Give it a rest, huh?
Whoa, folks. Give it a rest, huh?
Oh, come on now. That's a tad too far.
Oh, come on now. A bicycle lock? Really?
Well, it was a pretty view…once. Locks creeping over the side like fungus.

104 thoughts on “A Bridge Too Far”

  1. They are not romantic, they are sheer vandalism. Let us hope this does not spread to London and other ciries in the UK. The French authorities should simply cut them off and send them off as scrap metal. If you want to mark your love, plant a flower in a park, or a flowering cherry tree or some other tree in a woodlands. Perhaps an oak which will be there for 100s of years.

    1. We love the idea of planting flowers or a tree as a gesture of love. It’s good for the environment (as opposed to throwing keys into an already polluted river where it will rust and damage the habitat), they’ll last longer and grow (hopefully, like love!) and they’re beautiful to look at (as opposed to the visual pollution of what is surely approaching 1 million locks in our city!).

      1. Yes with the money raised from scrap metal, we could do a lot of good glowers and trees, popular trees in fact we are starting to see a shortage of populars here in France. We could also found a anti lovelocks législation with fines for vandalism fines once instated as law, then put those funds into something beuatiful for our city and surrounding country for all. Take them down and keep them down!. Vee le Français!! J.d. cordlé, Montmartre Paris

  2. I’m guessing it’s gonna take awhile to dredge the rivers, gather up all the keys, and then figure out which key opens up each lock…

  3. Well done you! I really hope your petition is a success (already signed) and this ugly scourge disappears from Paris’s bridges without delay!

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