From the latest edition of Bartlett’s Vaguely, and Regrettably, Familiar Quotations: “Love locks have come to Paris. In case you’re unaware of this phenomenon, it has become a fad for lovers to solemnize their passion by inscribing their names on a padlock, snapping it onto the railing of a bridge and throwing the key in the water.”
— C’est Ironique, Sept 14, 2010.
Things have changed in the two years since I first wrote about love locks in Paris, which were then relatively few in number and confined to the city’s two footbridges, the Pont des Arts, facing the Louvre, and the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor between the Orsay Museum and the Tuileries Gardens.
Those two structures were cleared of locks in 2010, whereupon the key party switched to the Pont de l’Archevêché, no doubt chosen for its central location, picturesque site behind Notre Dame, relative lack of traffic, and the fact that it’s the only other bridge in town with wire mesh barriers that can accommodate a padlock or two.
Or ten thousand:
Note to lovestruck locknuts: like the hotels in the neighborhood, the Pont de l’Archevêché has no vacancy. There’s no more room to squeeze in another padlock, and it literally has locks on locks:
Not surprisingly, more locks have now reappeared at the original two sites as well. The Pont des Arts is once again pretty well covered:
And the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar-Senghor also has its share:
It looks like there’s no curbing this craze. The city has apparently given up trying to shear off the locks, much less discourage the addition of new ones, judging from the presence of lock vendors on all three bridges. Even the used-book mongers along the Seine are now doing a nice little sideline in padlocks and indelible ink pens:
The phenomenon has reached such proportions that a well-known Web-based Anglophone lifestyle publication recently dispatched a special envoy to conduct a socio-scientific survey of the love locks of Paris. This respected researcher found that the locks cover a wide spectrum of size and quality, from the antique:
To the sleekly modern:
From the commonplace:
To the thematic:
And from the tiny and flimsy:
To the massive and, if you happen to be Romanian, patriotic:
Furthermore, the inscriptions cover the gamut from crude pocket knife scratches and felt-tip scrawls:
To professional engraving:
Our intrepid investigator also identified some interesting developments in the field of amorohaspology, as the discipline is called in the scientific community. For example, some couples skip the trip to the hardware store and content themselves with a simple ribbon or piece of cloth:
Or even just a hunk of plastic sliced off a shopping bag:
It has been concluded that these less permanent, less symbolic tokens stand not for passionate, undying love but rather for tepid, moribund lust: summer flings, holiday indiscretions, one-night stands, toilet stall quickies and other sundry foreign entanglements.
Bearing out this hypothesis, one strand of white polyethylene on the Pont des Arts yielded a faded inscription written in lipstick saying, “Jacques and Rhoda, 3 pretty good hours.”
Also, variations have emerged in the usual couple scenario. Consider these examples:
Mister Mike seems to have been hedging his bet there. Either that or he was having one hell of a week. And he’s not the only one who believes that “two (bobbing) heads are better than one”:
Maybe Monika and Erika should get together with these good-time gals:
Sorry my photo is a little out of focus, but I was distracted by imagining the scene.
Then there’s this lothario:
The two locks are so similar it has to be the same guy. Looks like Thiago broke up with his eternal soulmate Carol after his 2011 vacation and then came back to Paris with a new girlfriend, who could spell his name right, exactly six months later.
If things don’t work out with Daniela, I suppose we can expect a third lock marked “Isabella e Thiago,” or perhaps “Thiago e Carol II,” to appear on September 17th this year.
Now, speaking of locks on locks, what’s up with this one?
Since the big one is the “Master,” my guess is that there’s a very affectionate S&M dominator somewhere out there with a huge dungeon.
Lastly, someone on the Pont de l’Archevêché was either trying to take the trend into new territory or, more likely, heard wrong when the concept was explained:
So what’s next? Love clocks? Love smocks? Will men start wrapping the bridges with love jocks?
The possibilities are endless, and apparently so is the stream of lovers who want to add their little piece of steel to a Parisian bridge and their key to the Seine.
Pretty soon there will be enough extra metal attached to the city’s bridges to build another bridge. Which will soon be lined with padlocks. This process will then continue until half the river is covered with bridges and the other half filled in with keys. Then, and only then, will the fad die out.
But I know, deep in my heart, that one thing will live on forever: Thiago’s love.
For Anna, Connie, Emma, Molly and Rachel. And Monika.
Reader Anika Savage writes: “Hilarious!”
Reader Naoma Foreman writes: “I am an American who visits Paris for a few months a year and find the love locks to be charming. What is greater than love? No, I have not placed one there, but maybe next year…”
Reader Margo Berdeshevsky writes: “Well, personally I am/would be happy to be the grinch/grunch/grump that stole Christmas on this particular subject. For one, the locks are ugly and they obfuscate lovely bridges and sites and sights. Bah humbug. And for two, tea for two and love for two and love, in general, and in all its glories, and in particular should never be a locked subject imho. Love is the freedom to love. And if it needs a symbolic or a real lock to protect it, then it ain’t love, it’s prison. Voila.
“See ya in the divorce courts, or or or… Bottom line, if one has to lock up love, is it free to love? Non, et non et non.”
Reader Elaine Breakstone writes: “I always giggle at your right-on read of what’s new and quirky and fun to read about in Paris. As for this one, I’ve done it with boyfriend many times… and the neatest was when a rainbow appeared on a rainy (what else is new?) day just as we pinned our signature to the bridge… and when I looked down, there was a barge with my name on it. What a perfect signature!”
© 2012 Paris UpdateFavorite
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