Paris’s Pont des Arts Sees Clear After Its Divorce From Love Locks

On a bright December morning I was headed to the Institut de France to learn about the 350th anniversary of the Academy of Sciences, founded in 1666, and about Louis Pasteur’s archives, recently added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register , which lists the world’s documentary heritage.

The Institute de France seen from the Right Bank. Photo GLK.
The Institute de France seen from the Right Bank. Photo GLK.

Approaching the Pont des Arts, the footbridge across the river, I saw that work was being done on the bridge. For years its railings had been invaded by so-called love locks, a forced marriage between property of the City of Paris and visitors who love her… sometimes to death.

It was a loveless marriage, as many residents and city authorities saw it. The locks were finally removed. They were temporarily replaced by wooden panels. Now, the wooden panels havebeen removed, and the clear view has been restored. No, more than restored, the view has been improved thanks to the new transparent panels.

On the Pont des Arts facing west. Photo GLK.
On the Pont des Arts facing west. Photo GLK.

The divorce with love locks is final, at least on this bridge. We–residents and visitors alike–can now rejoice in a clear view (beyond the occasional graffiti) as we walk by, linger long or picnic, without being assaulted by pieces of metal declaring that Claudia loves Roberto or Sarah loves Paul or simply that a visitor was here and wished his mark his or presence.

On the Pont des Arts looking west. Photo GLK.
On the Pont des Arts looking west. Photo GLK.

To the south the view of the Institut de France remains unchanged.

Institut de France. Photo GLK.
Institut de France. Photo GLK.

I went inside to meet some savants.

From the inner courtyard of the Institut de France. Photo GLK.
From the inner courtyard of the Institut de France. Photo GLK.

(c) 2015, Gary Lee Kraut

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