Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Love locks in Paris

Lovers have long claimed that Paris is theirs, branding the most visited city in Europe as the “City of Love.” I can't tell, really. I was on assignment the first two times I was there, and during my third and recent visit, I was with my mom. So I really don't know the romantic side of Paris, save for the fact that honeymooners are everywhere in the city.
Perhaps the most obvious, deliberate and assuming evidence of this city being a place for lovers can be seen at what Pont des Artes (Bridge of Arts) has become.

When I crossed the bridge during my visit last Spring 2012, I was surprised to see the railings being filled with padlocks. Padlocks of all shapes and sizes, that is, and you name it: heart-shaped, round, rectangular; small, very small, gigantic, imposing, just right; or colored green, red, gold, silver… and they’re all there!

I thought this was an art exhibit, as this bridge that links the Institut de France and the central square of the Louvre has always been a favorite venue for painters and photographers to practice their skills given the unique views of the River Seine -- thus the name.
A view of Institute de France -- the home of the vanguards of the French language -- from the Pont des Arts.

The other end of Pont des Artes leading to the Louvre.

The padlocks weren't here in the winter of 2009, I thought, or at least I barely noticed them as they weren't as many as they are now.
Our guide at Sandeman's New Paris Tours explained: since that will-you-marry-me moment of Mr. Big and Carrie Bradshaw at the last episode of Sex and the City which was shot at the bridge, tourists have found a way to lock in -- almost literally -- their own personal love affairs on the same site.

The guide said lovers are supposed to put their names (messages optional) on the padlocks, lock them at the railings of the bridge, kiss each other, then throw the keys on the Seine.

The bad news: authorities remove the padlocks once in a while. I've even come across a 2010 article saying French authorities want to get rid of the rusty padlocks for good as these become eyesores at what would otherwise be a beautiful bridge.

But what's interesting here is that the practice is not exclusive to Pont des Artes.

The practice of putting cadenas de amor (love locks) is even present in other European cities.

Still in Paris, love locks can also be seen at Passerelle Léopold-Senghor (Metro Assemblée Nationale), which links the Tuilleries and Musée d'Orsay.

The same can also be seen in Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy; in Pécs, Hungary; and in Seville, Spain.

I also found love locks on my way to Trastevere in Rome, Italy and everywhere else in Prague, the Czech Republic!

Love locks at the Ponte Fabricio en route to Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) then onwards to Trastevere in Rome, Italy.

No one's really sure where the practice originated, and from which legend it was based. Of course, mere love locks can't assure longevity of relationships. But heck, placing locks on bridges while walking around Europe is by no means cute! I could have done it myself even if I'm single, although I wouldn't want to waste my euros on expensive locks being sold close by or give up locks of my luggages. ^_^

Tip sheet:
* Pont des Artes is located at 43 rue Marx Dormoy, Paris. Metro Louvre-Rivoli (Line 1).
* Padlocks are available at small bookshops and souvenir stores around the bridge, which cost anywhere between 5 euros to 15 euros. It is advised to buy your padlock somewhere else if you want to save. 
* If you're an art lover, be ready to spare at least 20 euros to pay for that small artwork being sold at the bridge itself.


Anna Marie Luque Manalo said...

Hi Gege, sabel here. I love your travel blog. :) keep exploring different places and share travel your experience.

We will be visiting Paris again this August, i wanna see these cadenas de amore and maybe leave one too. :)

Anna Marie Luque Manalo said...

*share your travel experience.

Iris Cecilia Gonzales said...

cute article!

Iris Cecilia Gonzales said...

BTW, I did figure out finally how to put a slideshow on my blog. YOu should too :-) via Picasa.