I've been to Paris many times. And I thought I've been on every bridge crossing the Seine. But turns out I had missed one, which I crossed for the first time last Saturday on a brief trip to the City of Lights.
It's called Pont des Arts and it's a pretty unassuming metal bridge for pedestrians, easily to overlook if you've determined to cross on the Pont Neuf or others more famed.
Turns out, though, that there is an aspect of Pont des Arts that is utterly charming. The chain link fences on both sides of the bridge are covered with locks placed there, it appears, mostly by lovers. "Sally and John, March 4, 2010." and "We're engaged!...Frederic et Michele" and the like. Some bike locks, some large commercial looking locks, but mostly plain old padlocks. I did see a few that seemed to be memorials for someone who dies. But mostly, it looks like lovers...lots of lovers. Celebrating their declaration of devotion to each other on this bridge in Paris for posterity. I like thinking of the conversations that took place around each of these locks: did they buy the lock together? Take one they had around the house? Did one of them write on it, show it to the other and get agreement to place it on the bridge together? Did they celebrate with a glass of champagne at any of the numerous little cafes near the bridge?
I hung around for a bit, hoping I'd see a couple putting a lock on the bridge, but alas, the timing was wrong.
Am wondering how the practice started. Is it a destination point for tourist lovers as well as Parisiens? The names on the locks I saw seemed to come from many places around the world. And who keeps the key?
When couples break up, does one of them remove the lock?