FLASH: Paris City Hall speaks with NLL

We are very pleased to report that on Friday, June 27th, the first-ever meeting between the Mairie de Paris and No Love Locks was held by telephone, for the purposes of each party becoming more familiar with the efforts and point of view of the other, and to search for the potential to collaborate in finding solutions to the love locks epidemic in our city. The meeting, which was initiated by a representative from the office of Bruno Julliard (First Deputy Mayor) , lasted for a full hour and was a very exciting step for our movement!

We were truly gratified by the warm reception we received, and by the genuine interest shown in our campaign and in the work we have done these past five months. They were in receipt of our 44-page presentation on the locks problem in Paris, which we sent to Mayor Hidalgo and Mr. Julliard several weeks ago, and were impressed by the scope of the work we have done in creating this active community of supporters and in harnessing the power of social media to draw public, city and media awareness to this issue.

During the meeting, No Love Locks had the opportunity to present the following proposals for specific actions that we believe can and must be taken in order to achieve the goal of saving the bridges and monuments of Paris from the love locks epidemic.

  1. Post multi-lingual signs at all affected bridges and monuments to notify the public that these are historic structures and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Paris, that they must be respected, and that locks (and graffiti) will not be tolerated. Part of the reason the locks are so out of control is that, until now, no one has ever told the public this trend is unwelcome here in Paris. If the City says “STOP”, then many people will actually stop. This must be a first priority – signs that informative, educational, and dissuasive.
  2. Ban and remove existing locks from all affected bridges and monuments. We believe an explicit ban is an essential part of communicating to the public what is and is not “acceptable and respectful behavior” here in Paris, and that vandalizing our bridges will simply not be tolerated. Although posting signs will succeed to a degree in reducing the number of new locks, some will not alter their intentions to attach locks unless they know the city specifically bans them. And yes, we still want a 100% removal of all locks from all bridges and from monuments, public parks, etc.
  3. Seek preventative measures (including the use of different materials for safety railings) to stop people from attaching new locks to the bridges. The top priorities here are the Pont des Arts and the Pont de l’Archevêché, the two bridges that are the most horribly disfigured by locks and where both the bridges and the public are in the most immediate and real danger – as evidenced by the recent collapse of one of the bridge panels which weighed in at 700 kg or over 1,500 lbs. In addition, the Pont Alexandre III has very few locks, but the fact that they are attached to the historic sculptures is truly shocking; here, also, measures must be taken immediately. It is paradoxical that mesh grilles were attached to some of the bridges in order to protect children from falling into the Seine, and that now these same grilles have actually become a danger to the public and the bridges themselves, because of the locks.
  4. Ban and fine the sale of locks within a certain radius of any bridges or monuments. This would target bouquinistes, souvenir shops and those selling locks illegally on the bridges.
  5. Open call for alternatives to locks: We fully support this initiative, already announced by Bruno Julliard, but we feel it should be launched as soon as September instead of the end of this year. Then, if our objective is to have Paris completely free of locks, it is necessary to separate the call for suggestions of what to do with the existing locks (both those on the bridges today which have yet to be removed, and those already removed which remain in city storage) from the call for creative alternatives to the locks.
  6. Partnerships and public support: We have formed/are actively forming partnerships with associations (such as the Association of the Notre Dame Site and Environs) whose mission is to protect the architectural heritage of Paris and of France. And as evidenced by the over 9,300 signatures on our petitionthe nearly 3,000 Facebook “likes” and nearly 500 Twitter followers (as well as the many, many letters the Mairie has already received directly on this issue), it is clear that public support, both within and outside of Paris, for these efforts is high.

After having the opportunity to share our vision and proposed strategy with the Mairie, and having received very positive feedback from them, we are now greatly encouraged and confident that the Mairie is as concerned for the security and safety of the public, and for the preservation of the city’s architectural heritage, as we are here at No Love Locks. As Paris is now fully into the summer tourist season and there is some urgency with regard to ensuring public safety on and near these locks-afflicted bridges, we believe that some visible action by the City can soon be anticipated, although we have not as yet been advised of anything specific.

We are hopeful that this first meeting and positive acknowledgment of our efforts (and yours!) will lead to future communications and collaborations with the Mairie in support of our continued efforts to see Paris freed of “love” locks. This is the most important development to date in our 5-month-long campaign, and we could not be more pleased about being able to share it with you!

We encourage you, our supporters, to continue to spread the message that padlocks are not appropriate symbols of love, and that when attached to public structures they are nothing more than a form of vandalism and pollution. Paris was the City of Love BEFORE the locks, and it will be even more so AFTER the locks are gone. What can you do now to help? It’s simple: Keep signing and sharing the petition and leave your comments to the Mairie there, as a means of showing your continued support to show the Mairie of Paris that they must continue to move forward and make progress, step by step, toward restoring the historic bridges of Paris to their original beauty and purpose.

As travellers, we are not entitled to do as we like on someone else’s doorstep, and we are not entitled to leave something of ourselves behind or to “leave our mark” on a place, simply by virtue of our love or the money we spend to travel there. It’s time for tourists to reframe their thinking on this point, because we are destroying – through vandalism, pollution and sheer thoughtlessness – the very places we seek to experience! If you love a place enough to travel there, then love it enough to leave it the way you found it! You can also support No Love Locks by sharing the message of what it means to be a responsible, respectful visitor in someone else’s city or country: Do no harm. Take only photographs. Leave only footprints.

We will keep you informed of any important developments here in Paris, including letting you know where you can submit your suggestions to the Mairie when they are ready to launch their Open Call for Ideas. (So many of you have written to us to tell us your ideas, and soon you will be able to tell the Mairie directly!) Thank you once again for your overwhelming support of our efforts. That support, and this community that we have built together, is a big part of what allowed us to be invited to Friday’s meeting. You have made a difference!