Note to romance-struck couples strolling in Paris, the eternal city of love: please consider immortalising your passion with a “selfie” rather than lashing a padlock to a city bridge.
That was the message issued on Monday by City Hall authorities, desperately trying to save its bridges, including the world-famous Pont des Arts, from damage from the thousands of padlocks left there by lovers to pledge their eternal devotion.
Since 2008, when the craze first began, thousands of couples from across the world have visited the Pont des Arts every year and sealed their love by attaching a lock carrying their names to its railing and throwing the key in the Seine.
But too much love can be a dangerous thing and the city authorities have been wrestling with the problem of how to halt the phenomenon, which is beginning to take its toll.
In June, police hurriedly ushered tourists off the Pont des Arts when a section of the footbridge collapsed under the weight of the metal displays of affection.
Two young Americans living in Paris have gathered thousands of signatures for a petition they launched in March calling for the locks to be removed, saying they are eyesores and cause damage to the bridges.
City Hall authorities told AFP: “The idea is to give couples the alternative of a selfie instead of a love lock and explain that they are weighing too heavily on Parisian bridges.”
Notices have been put up on bridges encouraging lovers to take a selfie and upload them to a special site (lovewithoutlocks.paris.fr) or to tweet them with the hashtag #lovewithoutlocks.
“It’s the first step in a wider action plan … an initial communication effort to tell people that love locks are not good for Paris’s cultural heritage and that actually, it’s not an ideal way to symbolise love,” the City Hall added.