A couple gathered on the bridge, toying with something no bigger than the palm of their hand. Bending down the guy fiddles with the object, fixing it to the bridge. Standing up the couples embrace, kiss and then throw something into the waters of the Seine River below. Holding hands they walked away which gives me a chance to see what they were doing.
A tiny padlock was fixed to the railing of the bridge bearing their initials.
Along the railing, overlooking the Notre Dame, lovers come to leave a token of their love, and throw the key into the river below as part of a belief that it means that their love will be everlasting; and they wasn’t the only couple on the bridge that day.
An American voice called out to me, “Parlez-vous anglais?” To which I responded, “Oui!” and a conversation between me and these two ladies began. They were Americans celebrating their ten-year anniversary with a trip through Europe, but only had three-days in Paris. Why did they visit Paris? To place a beautiful lock which they had engraved with their names and anniversary on to the bridge.
Originally on a bus tour, they managed to find a hotel in Paris where they could spend a few days being ‘together’ and completing the ritual which they hoped would keep their love strong throughout the years to come.
Love locks from around the world can be found on the Pont de l’Archevêché. Locks writing in French, English, Japanese, Chinese – it is a special place for all of these people.
Some locks are just plain luggage locks, others have names written on them. Some have a photo of the couple attached, others are shaped like turtles and some are bedazzled and decorated in glitter; to each couple that fixes a lock to the bridge there is some significance to the lock whether fleeting or for forever.
But not everyone sees these padlocks as a good thing in Paris. In May 2010, the Paris city council complained that with the growing number of love locks on the Pont de l’Archevêché and other bridges nearby, that conservation and architectural heritage of the bridges would not be possible, and the love locks of hundreds who had visited before disappeared overnight.
But lovers began to replace the locks straight away, and now over 2,000 are hanging from the Pont de l’Archevêché; including the couple that I saw fasten their locks.
So to will I make the journey when I find the right man, because who wouldn’t want to declare their love for each other in such a brief moment of unity in such a beautiful setting, overlooking the Notre Dame and Seine River.