Locks and Valentine’s in the City of Love

  • Posted on: 14 February 2016
  • By: karen

The locks on the bridge near Notre Dame are a famous symbol of love in Paris.  For years, visitors have attached metal padlocks to the iron grill of the bridge in expressions of enduring love.  The tradition involves etching or inscribing initials on the lock, attaching it to the bridge, then dropping the key into the Seine below.  As of last year there were an estimated 700,000 keys at the bottom of the river (reported by the New York Times, June 15, 2015)!

However, contrary to the lovers’ intentions and despite popularity among tourists, in summer of 2015 the city undertook efforts to remove the locks.  This was for both safety and aesthetic reasons, as the weight on the iron grills obstructed the view of the river and threatened to topple the iron grills down onto boats below.  A combination of panels of artwork and plexiglass covering of the iron grills was the planned replacement.

By the time of my last visit in late September of 2015, it could be seen that many locks had been removed, but large sections of the bridge maintained the familiar appearance. Stories from trip advisor and around the internet report how locks are sneaking their way back on to the bridge.  Perhaps, at least for now, the locks and the power of love are as enduring as ever in the city of love!