The city of Paris has long been revered as a place to fall in love and to rekindle the flames of passion. The architecture, the greenery, the culture, the cuisine, the people… c’est la cité d’amour. But beyond enjoying a tête-à-tête over a cup of café au crème, rendez-vouzing on the Champs-Elysées, and gazing out at the city from the top of the Eiffel Tower, there is one spot that is, for many lovers, the place to visit…
Le Pont des Arts (Arts Bridge) is a footbridge traversing the banks of the Seine. It is an elegant metal bridge, first conceived by Napoleon and originally built in 1804 by engineers Louis-Alexandre de Cessart and Jacques Lacroix-Dillon, then reconstructed in the 1980s. It has long been a popular meeting place for romantics and artists, affording as it does views of the Louvre and the Ile de la Cité. But then a new phenomena emerged – attached to the metal mesh on the side of the bridge padlocks appeared, each etched with initials and/or messages.
The idea is this – you go to the bridge with your lover. You paint onto a padlock a signature of your love. You attach the padlock to the side of the bridge, then you throw the key into the river. It is a sign of commitment, of fusing hearts, for all the world to see. Though the padlock is usually a rather ugly, functional object, here, on the bridge, it transcends its metallic bounds and becomes something else entirely – a symbol of love and strength and hope. And when you stand back and see the many, many locks attached to the bridge, you get a sense of a world full of love. What a beautiful thing.
If you’d like to see images of the bridge, please visit this link: http://www.usatoday.com/picture-gallery/news/world/2013/01/04/locks-of-love/1808771/.