Frequently Asked Questions
WHO IS NO LOVE LOCKS™ AND WHY ARE YOU CAMPAIGNING TO HAVE “LOVE LOCKS” REMOVED AND BANNED IN PARIS?
You can read about how No Love Locks™ and the “two Lisas” who founded it on our About page. We decided to campaign for the ban on and permanent removal of the locks on Parisian bridges because we truly love Paris and everything about this city, and we are tired of having the once-beautiful heart of the City of Light and Love turned ugly by tens of thousands of rusting padlocks. Instead of just talking about how terrible it is, we decided to do something about it. Voila! Here we are.
In case you were wondering, we are not, at the present time, asking for nor accepting financial contributions towards our project. We’re just a couple of francophiles trying, with the help of our friends and social networks, to make a difference in the adopted city we love so dearly – Paris.
WHAT ARE “LOVE LOCKS”, EXACTLY?
“Love locks”, or “cadenas d’amour” in French, are padlocks that are attached to bridges, statues, fences or monuments by couples or individuals as a symbolic gesture of love. No one quite knows exactly where or when the trend began; some claim it began in China, others say in Rome or Florence, Italy. Some connect the idea to modern novels where the main characters attached a lock to a bridge, while others say the tradition actually goes back centuries. We will probably never know the exact origins.
What is known is that it has turned into a global phenomenon. From Moscow to Sydney to New York City to Prague, Florence, Cologne, London—even the Great Wall of China, and more, these locks now cover monuments and public spaces around the world. Bridges in particular seem vulnerable to tourists (and sometimes even local residents) wielding their padlocks. At some time in 2008, “love locks” began to appear on bridges in Paris, France, starting with the historic Pont des Arts, the pedestrian bridge or passarelle that connects the Louvre and the domed Institut de France, a bridge where some of the most stunning views of the heart of Paris can be found. Since then, the locks have spread to at least SIX other bridges across the Seine, and have also started appearing along fences and statues in other parts of the city as well. The locks have become like a modern plague on Paris.
[PLEASE NOTE: “Love locks”, in the context of our initiative, are NOT the same thing as “Locks of Love”, which is a very worthwhile cause where people donate their long hair to be made into wigs and hairpieces for people who have suffered hair loss due to cancer or other illnesses. Some of our own friends and love ones have benefitted from “Locks of Love” and we fully support the fine work of this very worthy organization.]
AREN’T LOVE LOCKS ROMANTIC, A SIGN OF LOVE? WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?
They are certainly intended that way, of course. When couples or individuals decide to attach a padlock (usually with a personal message written or engraved upon it) to a bridge or fence, they choose a place that has sentimental significance to them. They believe they are creating a special romantic memory, and they like the idea of “locking their love” to that place.
We understand that their intentions are entirely good and that they see their actions as romantic and harmless. Nonetheless, there are many negatives to “love locks”, issues that people do not stop to consider when they are caught up in their personal romantic moment. No Love Locks™ wants to educate people and shift popular opinion so that people will seek other, less destructive ways of expressing their live, in Paris or anywhere else. In plain truth, by definition, they are nothing more than the vandalism of heritage sites—and that’s not love.
We aren’t against love; in fact, we LOVE love. We just hate the locks.
WHY ARE LOVE LOCKS A PROBLEM, IN PARIS (OR ANYWHERE ELSE)?
- They are, by definition, vandalism. “Love locks” are a tourist trend, not a Parisian or French tradition. Most locals do not like them or want them. Those who put locks on historic monuments are in essence vandalizing the heritage of the local people. This is a lawless act, punishable under local statutes and codes.
- Padlocks degrade the integrity of bridges almost immediately. They begin rusting very quickly once exposed to the elements. This not only makes the locks themselves incredibly ugly to look at, but the rust spreads almost immediately to metal fencing or structures to which they are attached. A rusting bridge is NEVER a good thing.
- The weight of the locks damages bridges and creates the need for repetitive and costly repairs. Paris removed 65 tons from the Pont des Arts, which had to be completely renovated, and 35 tons from the Pont de l’Archevêché, which need its foundation rebuilt. City funds, which come from the taxpayers, must then be used for these repairs instead of other purposes like social housing. It’s an unfair burden to the citizens of Paris.
- “Love locks” open the door to other kinds of vandalism and petty crime on the bridges. Since locks have been appearing on Paris bridges, so has graffiti now become part and parcel of this trend. There has also been a 200% increase in petty crime on the bridges (pickpockets, illegal vendors, scam artists) who now populate the bridges to prey on tourists hanging locks.
- The discarded keys pollute our rivers. Most people, after attaching their locks, toss the keys into the river below as part of the “romantic ritual” — but few stop to consider that this is actually polluting the Seine, and creating an environmental problem for the wildlife. There are over 2 million rusted keys in the bottom of the Seine. Throwing a key into the river is as bad as throwing away your plastic water bottles or other trash. And it is actually a crime to throw refuse into the Seine.
- By the way, your lock, while you may intend it to be a symbol of something “eternal”, will not last very long. Soon after you attach it, it will most likely be covered by someone else’s lock; or someone else will scribble their own graffiti on it, or even spray paint over it. Eventually, it will be torn down (or cause the fence to collapse) and will be taken away. There is nothing “eternal” about it.
When viewed rationally, “love locks” are anything but romantic. We urge anyone who is considering coming to Paris and adding their padlock to one of our bridges, to please reconsider – and find another way to create a special romantic memory here. Would you spray paint your name on the side of Notre Dame? Of course not! So why do you want to come and commit vandalism with a padlock and key?
I THINK THE “LOVE LOCKS” ARE BEAUTIFUL, IN SPITE OF WHAT NO LOVE LOCKS IS SAYING, AND THAT PEOPLE SHOULD BE ABLE TO FREELY PUT THEM WHEREVER THEY LIKE. FREEDOM AND LOVE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING! WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT?
We respect that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion on the subject, and that not everyone will agree. But ultimately, shouldn’t Parisians have the final say? Paris City Hall has said under no uncertain terms that “love locks” are not welcomed in Paris.
We believe in freedom and love, too; we just also believe that one person’s alleged “right” to free expression of their love, in the the form of attaching a lock to a public space, should not trump everyone else’s right to enjoy that same public space. There is also a problem when locks are attached to historic landmarks, which should not be altered for any reason. One person’s expression of love should never come at the expense of someone else’s heritage.
So, while we may not convince you, we ask you to look at all sides of the argument. Freedom and love are wonderful things; we just don’t think these locks are the best way to express either.
WHICH BRIDGES IN PARIS ARE AFFECTED?
The Pont des Arts was the first, starting in 2008. By 2015, there were over 65 tons of locks on the bridge—and the damage was to such an extent that the city finally said, “enough!” and cut the locks off. Locks have spread to over 11 bridges in the UNESCO World Heritage Zone, and several landmarks in Paris, including:
- Pont Neuf (fencing around statue of Henri IV)
- Passarelle de Solferino (connecting the Tuilieries and the Musée d’Orsay)
- Pont Alexandre III (connecting the Grand and Petit Palais with Les Invalides)
- Passarelle Simone de Beauvoir (at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France)
- Canal St. Martin bridges
- Eiffel Tower
- Pont de l’Alma
- Pont Debilly
- Sacre Coeur
- Other public and private property in Paris Centre
WHO PROFITS FROM THE SALE OF LOVE LOCKS?
It has often been said that if you’re not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. This is true of all those who profit from the love locks trend. They want to manipulate you into thinking this is such a lovely, romantic thing to do, because they make money from you buying that lock. Some “love locks” sellers we’ve seen online will even specially engrave your message on your lock.
- illegal peddlers on or near the bridges (the same guys who also sell miniature Eiffel Towers and other tourist “junk” without the proper permits)
- the bouquinistes – the sellers of books, art posters and other souvenirs who have legal stalls along both sides of the Seine
- souvenir shops in and around the Seine who market padlocks with the specific intent that they become “love locks” (as opposed to TSA-approved combination luggage locks which at least have a practical purpose for tourists)
- online sellers and manufacturers of special locks targeted toward the “love locks” trend; these locks are often covered in glitter paint, are heart-shaped, or have special decorations or designs so they will “stand out” from the thousands of others on the bridge (which, by the way, they do NOT; there are too many!)
While we obviously cannot stop all vendors of “love locks” from trying to sell their products, we feel that by educating the public, we can gradually reduce the demand for the locks, and eventually those vendors will find something else to sell.
WHAT EFFORTS HAVE YOU MADE TO TRY AND CHANGE THE SITUATION IN PARIS? HAVE YOU BEEN SUCCESSFUL?
- We’ve created our website and blog here
- Leveraging social media to spread our message and begin to shift awareness
- We’ve created our petition for the Mayor and City Council of Paris
- We work with the mayor’s office to assist their communication efforts to save the city’s damaged heritage sites from the locks
I AGREE THAT THE LOCKS SHOULD NOT BE ATTACHED TO HISTORIC BRIDGES OR MONUMENTS, BUT IF THE LOCKS ARE REMOVED, WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THEM?
Although our first priority is to save the bridges and monuments from being harmed by the heavy, rusting locks, and we want them to be removed from these structures and to prevent new ones from replacing them, we do understand that many people would want those existing locks to be preserved or displayed in some other way, in order to respect the feelings of love “attached” to the locks.
In 2016, Paris City Hall sold 10 tons of locks from the 65 tons removed from the Pont des Arts to raise money for refugees. The rest were sold for scrap, and continue to be, which in turn funds civic projects.
Because the problem is so hard to control in a city that hosts more than 35 million tourists a year, there is no plan, currently, to create alternative places to hang locks. There is a zero tolerance policy in place at this time.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP YOUR CAMPAIGN IN PARIS?
- Sign our petition! It is available in English and French. Start at our English petition page here, and if you prefer to sign in another language, just click the links at the top. Please sign only ONE version of the petition.
- Follow our blog here where we’ll keep you up to date on our efforts.
- Like us on Facebook and share our posts and photos with your Facebook network.
- Follow us on Twitter and retweet our posts.
- Use hashtag #NoLoveLocks and/or our web site URL, NoLoveLocks.com, in your posts about us.
- Contact us to request media interviews or that we contribute an original article to your blog or publication.
- Send us photos and stories from your city about how “love locks” are a problem there, and what your city is doing about it; we’ll post them on our site and on Facebook, with photo credit to you for any original photos you send.
“LOVE LOCKS” ARE A PROBLEM IN MY CITY, TOO. HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED AND TRY TO EFFECT CHANGE WHERE I LIVE?
We encourage residents of other cities where “love locks” have also become an environmental and visual eyesore, to consider taking action as we have done here in Paris.
Some of the things you can do include:
- Create your own web site, blog, Facebook page or Twitter feed for your city to have a “place” where people in your community can learn more about your efforts. If you wish to use the NO LOVE LOCKS™ name, trademark or logo in your local campaign, you must contact us first. We will consider approving local “chapters” of our movement, but only with advance written permission.
- Create a petition online. We will be happy to share our petition text with you, to give you a starting point in writing your own, just contact us with your request.
- Issue a local press release about any efforts you are making in your city; it’s all about getting the word out and letting people know where you stand on the issue.
- Become a partner in your city’s search for solutions to the problem. Look for creative alternatives to “love locks” that you can suggest to your city council. For example, the city of Moscow has banned locks from being attached to bridges, but instead has provided metal “trees” where locks can be attached instead. In Rome, the city has created a web site where people can create virtual “love locks” together.
No Love Locks™ does not condone anyone taking illegal actions, however, such as physically trying to prevent others from attaching locks, or organizing any protests without the proper permission from the city in which you live. Activism is a wonderful thing; we should all feel free to speak out when something feels wrong to us. But we support activism by working within the system, not against it.