Paris City Hall Takes a Stand: NO MORE LOVE LOCKS

Yesterday, on the Pont de l’Archevêché in the 5th arrondissement, Paris City Hall held a press conference to officially announce their anti-“love lock” campaign. Vanessa Panetto, head of communications for the city spoke to some 20-odd journalists about the plan for addressing the “love locks” problem plaguing Paris.

Panetto began her statement with the issues of weight and safety, citing the potential dangers of collapse, a very real threat that has clearly pressed them into action, finally. According to Panetto, the #lovewithoutlocks selfie campaign, which launched this past Monday, is just the first step in what appears to be a speak-softly-but-carry-a-big-stick plan. “We’re testing a more conciliatory approach first,” Panetto told the press, “but if it does not work, a ban could be the solution.”

This was the first time City Hall publicly threatened a ban on “love locks,” though when asked by journalists present, Panetto would not commit to a date when a ban might be imposed. Meanwhile, after three months of heavy tourist traffic, the Pont des Arts has nearly 20 panels in some state of collapse, many covered by plywood boards or construction barriers.

stickerIn addition to the selfie campaign, the city of Paris has placed 23 large stickers on the Pont des Arts and Pont de l’Archevêché urging love-lockers in French, English and Spanish: Our Bridges Can No Longer Withstand Your Gestures of Love. NO MORE LOVE LOCKS!

It remains to be seen if tourists will heed the new campaign, especially since they have not been dissuaded by the obvious signs of damage the locks have caused. But it is encouraging to see City Hall finally taking a stand. In the end, though, they may have to take out that big stick—in the form of an outright ban on “love locks”—before Paris loses some of its most cherished landmarks.

The Pont des Arts after 3 months of heavy tourist traffic.
The Pont des Arts after 3 months of heavy tourist traffic. Tourists hang locks, unfazed.
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Paris to Lovers: Love Without Locks

On Monday, August 11th, Paris City Hall launched a campaign targeted at padlock-crazy lovers. The message: “Our Bridges Can No Longer Withstand Your Gestures of Love.” The idea: take a selfie instead, and share it with #LoveWithoutLocks. Your image will appear on a special website alongside other enlightened lovers who choose not to vandalize the city’s most cherished heritage sites.

What's left of the Pont des Arts. A lamp missing, brought down by the weight of locks.
What’s left of the Pont des Arts. A lamp missing, brought down by the weight of locks. After the heavy tourist season, Paris’s bridges are deeply in danger.

This is an important first step in the fight against the padlocks now endangering two of the most important bridges in Paris, and spreading to 11 others along the Seine. It’s an effort to educate people and change their point of view.

In Paris, some critics of the campaign call it “soft” and “ineffective.” And indeed, three months into the heavy tourist season here—the Pont des Arts now with over 15 collapsing panels—one wonders how this selfie initiative will even make a dent in the problem. Still, we hope #LoveWithoutLocks is the beginning of an aggressive campaign against “love locks” and that Mayor Hidalgo will now take a stronger stance on protecting the UNESCO World Heritage site along the Seine. In the meantime, we will continue to push for a ban on “love locks,” as it seems the only way to end this practice once and for all.

Help us, along with Paris City Hall, to promote this lock-free expression of love. Share the hashtag LoveWithoutLocks and the official website, lovewithoutlocks.paris.fr.

Sign our petition to ban “love locks.”