Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Love Lock Bridge of Paris : Pont des Arts

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Writing about the huge collection of padlocks, bicycle locks, small locks, big locks, wide locks, thin locks, love locks, dread locks, goldi-locks which festoon (grace?) the sides of the Pont des Arts in Paris, adjacent to the Louvre, is sort of like writing about the Eiffel Tower.  Nearly every one who has been to Paris any time recently will say, "Been there, done that". 
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Well, I hadn't been there yet, though I'd heard several times about the locks of love on the Pont des Arts, and also on the Pont de l’Archevêché just behind Notre Dame Cathedral. So while in Paris to go see the Manuel Alvarez Bravo photo exposition at the Jeu de Paume, with la Grenouille, we strolled over to the Pont des Arts to see what all the fuss was about. Rarely have I seen so many cameras out and snapping away, close up and from a distance, at all the locks fastened to the fencing on the sides of the bridge, symbolizing, supposedly, the everlasting love of the people who placed them there. 
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Not everyone is too thrilled about all the locks and the message they represent. The NYT ran an article in August of this year about the locks titled "An Affront to Love, French-Style". Another article in the Independent relates how the Paris City Hall organised the removal of all the locks, only to see the locks return in even greater numbers after the removal. Personally, I would apply the old dictum, "If it feels good, do it" to the phenomenon. I find this far less offensive than the majority of brainless graffiti that gets painted most anywhere these days. And the variety of colors, styles, and messages makes for some entertaining lock viewing moments, we spent nearly an hour inspecting both sides of the bridge. And honestly, even if imho a padlock is not the right symbol for love, for those who think it is, or are simply having fun, are they hurting anything ? I think not. Some folks are for Rock and Roll, others for Lock and LOL.
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This was the largest of the locks we saw, a sheet metal, bolts, and cable affair, though perhaps not functional. Could double as a chastity device, albeit an uncomfortable one ?
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Visible here the small park at the tip of the Ile de la Cité where American war protesters were camped out in 1970 when I first came to Paris. (ok, that dates me a bit...)
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Not only were there locks, but a trumpeter trumpeting out his love...
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And readers soaking up all those good vibrations...
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And young lovers... which is what Paris is all about, whether one likes the locks, or not...
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26 comments:

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Owen, these locks are reportedly hurting the structure of the bridges. I actually contributed to this problem in April, but on inspection in October, I think that my/our lock was "pruned" in Holly's terms. The next time, we will select a very tiny lock.... (souriant)

Bises,
Genie

martinealison said...

Une très jolie publication... Cet été je me trouvais pour quelques jours à Paris et je suis passée sur le pont des Arts... L'atmosphère qui y règne n'est qu'un concentré d'AMOUR... Alors en ce qui me concerne la présence de ces cadenas ne me gêne absolument pas.
Très jolie photos. Gros bisous à vous

French Girl in Seattle said...

Super, toutes tes photos de cadenas, Owen! Des petits, des gros, des rouges, des noirs, des roses... il y en a pour tous les gouts, dis-moi! Moi je trouve ca original, et a mon avis, c'est un phenomene de mode qui finira par passer. C'est une caracteristique des grands mouvements: ils finissent toujours par s'essoufler. En attendant, grace a toi, on en profite! Vero (French Girl in Seattle)

louciao said...

lock and lol! ha!

I want to make a joke about getting one's locks off...

louciao said...

I like how the locks add a decorative, festive air to the scene...the colours, shapes, metallic tones, the rhythms of the differing sizes. The symbolism is, however, as the Times article suggests, puerile...though pure in its naive innocence.
On the other hand, people are such sheep!

Le Journal de Chrys said...

C'est hallucinant le nombre de cadenas que les couples sont venus accrocher à ce pont!!!!

Merci pour la visite Owen, d'autant plus que je ne vais jamais à Paris!!!

Le Journal de Chrys said...

Ohhh je vois ton FB, je m'en vais de faire coucou!!!

Anonymous said...

Love-locked: is that like a boat being landlocked?



Anonymous said...

...and by "boat" I of course mean cruise ship.

James said...

I'm blown away by the amount of locks there now. Way more than when I was there in 2010. Coincidentally I was just looking at a photo that I took on this bridge. In fact it's still on my monitor. :)

Robert Geiss said...

Wonderful ! Back home, Hamburg Germany, there's an alike. None over here.

Adam said...

For me these locks are synonymous with the sheeplike behaviour of people. They just show a fantastic lack of imagination - can this bridge really be the most important place in the city for young lovers? Can't they put their locks in other places, where more significant moments occurred?

Pastelle said...

Je ne les ai jamais vus en vrai ces cadenas, souvent sur les sites et les blogs, mais jamais comme les tiens.
Bravo pour tes prises de vue. :)
Quant au symbole, oui, il prête à réflexion. :)

Peter Olson said...

I don't know where the fashion started. Some say, in Italy, Rome... You now find padlocks on almosst all bridges wordwide. Actually, today, in Paris, I believe they are now even more concentrated on the Pont de l'Archevêché.

One day, some two years ago, all the padlocks were gone on Pont des Arts. Nobody was "guilty", neither the City, nor the Police...

Nadege said...

To me, they represent such a waste of resources. Made in China, shipped by diesel boat... to end up in a trash can.

The Sagittarian said...

That young couple in the lastphoto about to 'lock lips' perhaps? What a grand idea, until they rust but even rust has its beauty. I guess I know where I can send the locks from our storage unit when we finally move into our new home (whenever that will be!)

☆•.¸.Mildred.¸.•☆ said...

Les photos sont superbes!
Et il est impressionnant de voir le nombre et la variété de cadenas accrochées après le grillage!
Ça me donne envie d'en faire autant. Faut que je trouve un énorme cadenas et bien original;o)
Et je pense qu'il va falloir mettre quelques rangées de rambardes supplémentaires!

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Bon weekend, Owen****

clo said...

Ouvrez ouvrez la cage aux oiseaux..
En effet un drôle d'objet pour symboliser l'amour..que l'on se plait a imaginer pouvoir grandir et croitre en toute liberté..on s'attache et on s'emprisonne..nos amours ne seraient-ils que des cages ou nous vivons enfermés..
Bref..je n'irai pas suspendre mes amours a cette barrière ,mais je trouve ça plutôt joli par contraste au symbole qui me dérange un peu..tes photos racontent bien...et elles sont belles.
Je t'embrasse Owen..:)

Snowbrush said...

Gosh, Owen, I very much enjoyed this post--and your last one too.

Amanda said...

wonderful shots, owen - especially the last one. i've seen these locks on a bridge in llubljana, slovenia, as well as the brooklyn bridge just last weekend. lots of good love vibes around our world - lord knows we could use them.

Owen said...

I can see this bridge of locks intrigued more than one, and can understand that it certainly produces some reactions, both for and against.

I think they have to be taken with a grain of salt... the rate of divorce these days speaks volumes about people not willing or able to remain "locked" in relationships that aren't bringing them daily happiness.

And yes, for sure, wasteful, like so many aspects of our society.

I couldn't help but wonder about the ingredients in all these locks, I think there must be a lot of bronze, probably a fair amount of steel, hardened steel, and most assuredly a good dose of irony.

Best wishes to all, many thanks for stopping by this obscure little blog...

Catherine said...

what a charming post - a tradition i know nothing about - wonderful photos and commentary,,,,Greetings from Nice

Gwen Buchanan said...

A Love Bridge... There is still hope!!

Stickup Artist said...

What a strange tradition. People do love to leave their mark. I can definitely see the irony, and the sheer number of locks boggles my mind. I especially love the image with the couple locking eyes!

Virginia said...

Oh your photos are so much better than mine, how many times have I muttered that under my breath! ;)
I think it's a sweet gesture and you are SO RIGHT about the graffiti everywhere. We''ll see if love has been thwarted when I return in janvier. Perhaps we'll meet on the Pont des Arts and you can give me some instructions!
V

Karine A. said...

En Italie, à Rome, il y a une tradition semblable, qui fut alimentée par un roman très populaire " tre metri sopra il cielo" (3 mètres au dessus du ciel)C'est mignon, mais tout cette clés jettées dans l'eau, cela fait beaucoup de métal, non?