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, from New York City to Cincinnati, Ohio, from the Great Wall of China to the Ponte Vechio in Florence, 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.
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?
- Padlocks 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, especially when there are layers upon layers of them as is now the case in Paris, damages the bridges and creates the need for repetitive and costly repairs. City funds, which come from the taxpayers, must then be used for these repairs (over and over again) when those same funds could be used for other, more important purposes. Why should our taxes go toward cleaning up a mess like this? It’s an unfair burden to the citizens of Paris.
- The locks have gotten so out of control in Paris that they have degraded the once-beautiful views in and around the Seine river. People used to come to these bridges to admire Paris; now they come to gawk at the insanity of the locks. Parisians and visitors alike used to be able to enjoy these public spaces (the Pont des Arts was sometimes used for public art exhibitions, among other things) but now they have become so unpleasant that it affects quality of life.
- However well-intentioned the locks might be, in fact they are acts of vandalism, and they invite other acts of lawlessness such as graffiti (not the “artsy” kind, either), illegal peddling and reckless behavior. People have been climbing over the safety railings and up onto lamp posts to attach locks; they risk not only their own lives if they slip and fall into the river, but the police divers must go in after them as well. Also, the locks of course attract many more tourists… and where the tourists go, so go the pickpockets and scam artists.
- The locks are polluting our rivers. Most people, after attaching their locks, toss the keys into the river below as part of the “romantic ritual” – but have you stopped to consider that this is actually POLLUTING the Seine and creating an environmental problem for the wildlife? There are tens of thousands of rusted keys down there; throwing them into the river is as bad as throwing away your plastic water bottles or other trash.
- 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, when all sides are considered, it seems clear to us that “love locks” are anything BUT romantic. They are destructive and ugly, they cost the city and taxpayers a lot of money, and they add absolutely nothing of value to Paris. 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 own opinion on the subject, and that not everyone will agree. 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.
When something is done, even in the name of freedom and love, that actually has a damaging impact — as do these locks, clearly — then we think that is where the line has to be drawn. Must your expression of love come with such a high price for others? That just doesn’t seem like sane thinking to us. It actually seems rather selfish.
So, while we may not convince you, we ask you to look at all sides of the argument, that’s all. 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 700,000 locks on it—44 tons—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)
- Pont de l’Archevêché (behind Notre Dame) had 35 tons of locks removed and recently underwent a major renovation
- 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
WHY HASN’T THE CITY DONE ANYTHING ABOUT THE LOCKS?
In the beginning when the trend was just starting, the city would periodically come and individually cut the locks off the fencing; over time, the volume grew worse and it is clear the city just couldn’t continue removing them in that way—it would be a 24-hour a day job. The best they can do is wait until a part of the fencing has actually collapsed, then remove the entire section and replace it. But that fresh section becomes covered with new locks again within just a matter of a week or two.
In June of 2015, the city had had enough and cut over 700,000 locks from the Pont des Arts (44 tons!) and announced in the press an end to “love locks.” The wire mesh panels will be replaced by glass on both the Pont des Arts and the Pont de l’Archevêché. But these are only two bridges. The trend has spread throughout the city, and only a ban will begin to make a permanent change in Paris, and save their historic landmarks.
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? WHAT DO YOU PROPOSE THE CITY DO WITH THE LOCKS AFTER THEY ARE REMOVED?
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.
There are many possibilities the city could consider, from turning the locks into an art sculpture to relocating them “as is” to use them as an attraction by themselves. In 2010, an art student from nearby Beaux Arts in Paris cut all the locks off the bridge (there were only about 1,600 at that time, now there are tens of thousands) and made a sculpture out of them. In Moscow, the city has created metal “trees” where people can put their locks, and periodically when the trees are full, they are relocated to another place so people can admire them.
Part of what we hope to do is to open a dialogue with city officials where we solicit suggestions from the public, to brainstorm any manner of creative ideas for what to do with the existing locks, and to explore the feasibility of creating a different place for people to attach locks, if the city really wants to allow that to continue.
We also want to find romantic alternatives to the locks, a NEW tradition that lovers in Paris can embrace, something that is unique to this unique city. Because as many have told us, the idea of “locking” one’s love is not what real love is all about; shouldn’t love be free?
So, we do want to support tourism in the city with fresh ideas that will help Paris keep its place as one of the most visited cities in the world — by recent estimates, 32.3 MILLION people came here in 2013 — and certainly, as the City of Love. Perhaps there could even be a contest where people could submit their best ideas! Keep following our progress here, and on Facebook and Twitter for future news about these efforts.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP YOUR CAMPAIGN IN PARIS?
- Sign our petition! It is available in English, French and several other languages. 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.