Pont de l’Archevêché
Paris, Île-de-France, 75005, France
About the Artist/Site
The Pont de l’Archevêché, a bridge which crosses Paris’s famed River Seine from the fifth arrondissement on the Left Bank toward the Ile de la Cité and Notre Dame cathedral on the right bank, has become the new favorite spot for the placement of thousands of ribbons, locks, and adornments left there by immeasurable numbers of tourists, visitors, and lovers. Colloquially known as the Bridge of Love, it has become a vaunted tourist attraction and a destination by which lovers can pledge their everlasting devotion by securing a “love lock” onto the metal bridge railings.
These testimonies of love – which range in size and type from standard bike-locks to brightly painted or engraved specialty lockets festooned with the lovers’ initials or names – are attached from visitors from all over the world, with Chinese, Russian, and Japanese letters complementing those of western European languages and cultures. After attaching the lock onto the bridge, the keys are typically tossed into the Seine in order to emphasize the lovers’ declaration of undying commitment. Although the locks were, at first, attached rather surreptitiously at night, soon doing so became a proud act that was documented with selfies and videos. The number of locks has increased so dramatically that it is no longer possible to see through them to the river; in fact, many locks are locked onto other locks, rather than onto the bridge itself.
The original bridge for this assemblage was the Pont des Arts, a footbridge that crosses from the Louvre. But in May 2010, the municipal offices expressed concern over the number of locks affixed to the bridge, citing them as a challenge to the preservation of their national patrimony. Soon after, all of the locks were removed in a clandestine operation during the night.
However, within the year, the lovers were back, this time on the Pont de l’Archevêché. Reserved for pedestrians and cyclists, this romantic spot boasts one of the best views of the iconic areas of the French capital. However, it began to show signs of strain as a result of the weight of the metal love locks, and on the night of June 8, 2014, a portion of the bridge railing began to crumble. Tourists were quickly evacuated and the police sealed off the area (the section fell inward rather than into the Seine, which is often busy with sightseeing boats). Although most tourists love the global assemblage, some locals and residents have called for complete removal of the locks. It is, as yet, unclear as to whether this paean to love, created by thousands of people from all over the world, will remain extant for long.
The Ponte Vecchio in Florence and the Ponte l’Accademia in Venice have also become sites for the attachment of vast quantities of love locks.
By late 2014-early 2015, the City of Paris began removing the love-locks. They posted the following information at the entrance to the bridge:
“The weight of your love weighs down our monuments and endangers the capital’s visitors. Because our bridges will buckle under the weight of all the love-locks, the City of Paris is removing them…. As a result, the City of Paris has opted for a long-term alternative. From this autumn, the lattice grills will be replaced with glass panels which will allow the bridge to retain its transparent charm. But before that, Paris invites you to post your selfie and declaration of love on the lovewithoutlocks.paris.fr website where you can also discover the original work of four artists currently displayed on the Pont des Arts.”
“Our bridges can no longer withstand your gestures of love. No more love locks!”
The original locks were removed, and they were replaced by the extended lateral works of four different contemporary artists: JACE and BRUSK from France, EL SEED from Tunisia, and Pantonino from Portugal. The love-locks, however, are still in evidence, along the quai at the entrance to the bridge.
~Jo Farb Hernández
Map & Site Information
Paris, Île-de-France, 75005 fr
Latitude/Longitude: 48.843491 / 2.351834