Love Locks: A Romantic Gesture in Paris

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.

Love locks and a couple fixing a lock on Pont de l'Archevêché - Paris, France

Along the railings of the Pont de l’Archevêché, 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.

Love locks on the Pont de l'Archevêché bridge in Paris, France

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.

Cakes + Pie love lock on Pont de l'Archevêché in Paris, France

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.

Turtle love lock on Pont de l'Archevêché bridge in Paris France

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.

Multi language love locks on the Pont de l'Archevêché in Paris, France

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.

Pont de l'Archevêché overlooking the Notre Dame church in Paris France with love locks

Now it’s over to you:

What are your thoughts on Love Locks?

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  • Reply
    November 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Love the first picture! It seems to be a European trend – in my city (Cologne, Germany) we have thousends lovelocks on Hohenzollern Bridge, one of our local music artist even made a song over it. It`s really a romantic place at sunset when you walk the bridge an see the lightenend famous cologne cathedrale on the other site of the rhine river.

    • Reply
      December 1, 2012 at 3:03 am

      Such a beautiful trend. =) Do you know what the song is called? – would love to hear it.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    I love the padlock bridges in Paris! It’s kind of a fleeting act that represents forever – if that makes sense?! I was surprised when I was in Barcelona recently and saw that people had started attaching engraved padlocks to the fences at the top of Parc Guell.. seems like it’s catching on 🙂

    • Reply
      December 1, 2012 at 2:57 am

      It does make sense. =)

      People have also started putting them on the Millenium Bridge in London and along the railings near the Sacre Coeur in Paris; so definitely a trend that is catching on.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Wish I’d know about this before I left for Paris!

    • Reply
      January 21, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      I heard recently that it’s not just the Pont de l’Archevêché that now has the locks, but that the habit has spread to many other bridges in Paris. Can anyone confirm this?

  • Reply
    Stephen S.
    December 2, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I love the lock bridge in Paris. It is also the best view of Norte Dame in my opinion.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2012 at 3:36 am

    I love locks!! It’s amazing how fast they accumulate. I remember walking on this bridge in 2005, and there was nothing there!

    We have the same tradition in my home town in Russia where people attach a lock to this one small bridge on their wedding day. The city has to cut and get rid of those locks every year though because they add extra weight to the bridge (which is apparently a hazard). Hopefully this doesn’t affect the marriage…. lol

  • Reply
    December 3, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I love your takes and your camera. Would you mind telling us the one you used for these wonderful photos?

    • Reply
      December 4, 2012 at 4:06 am

      Hi Jesse,
      For these photos I used a Canon Kiss X3 (Japanese model) the American equivalent would be a Canon Rebel 🙂

  • Reply
    December 5, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Great photos Nicole!

    I used the idea of love locks to propose to my girlfriend (now wife!) during our trip to Paris in March of this year. Rather than the famous bridges, I chose a more intimate and personal spot to secure our own love lock in Paris.

    If you or any of your readers would like to read my story (and see a brief video), you can do so here: http://www.locks-of-love.com/acatalog/My-Story.html

  • Reply
    December 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    I absolutely love this – I wish I’d done it when I was in Paris! Great pics xx

  • Reply
    December 6, 2012 at 1:33 am

    I love your photos! Have been chasing love locks on my various adventures around the world…but the story that goes with your love love photos is awesome!

  • Reply
    Julia Kovach
    December 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Wow! What a beautifully romantic gesture! I adore these love locks! Who wouldn’t love to go to Paris and declare their love? Thanks for sharing this with the rest of us. I’m from the USA and never heard of this before. I’m looking forward to reading and seeing more from you! Take good care. Much love to you! xoJulia

  • Reply
    Tom - Active Backpacker
    December 7, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Gorgeous photos, Nicole! Those locks on the bridge are always cute and make for some great photos 😀

  • Reply
    Lynn Chou
    December 7, 2012 at 5:00 am

    I’ve always been reluctant about love locks. For some reason I superstitiously feel it’d jinx whatever good that’s going to happen…haha, or perhaps it’s just that I haven’t found the right person to place a lock with!

  • Reply
    December 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I LOVE these bridges, and would especially love to see this one in Paris (I saw a much smaller version in Slovenia this summer).

    If I put a lock on it, though, I think it would just say Amanda + Travel, since I know that’s one relationship guaranteed to last forever!

  • Reply
    Kara of Standby to Somewhere
    December 17, 2012 at 10:14 am

    The Parisians may think it is silly, but I think it’s sweet…. and one day I will add my own! I was in Paris for a day in June and snapped lots of photos of those love locks!

  • Reply
    Julie Munsch
    December 24, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Reading this brought back great memories of the lock my boyfriend and I placed there in October of this year. Hopefully it will still be there the next time we visit!

  • Reply
    Andy Carr
    January 4, 2013 at 2:21 am

    Great article Nicole, I’ve noticed this trend developing in Europe over the last few years and I think it’s great! May even do it myself one day…

    I took this photo in Ljubljana, Slovenia in October – not quite as many locks but the sentiment is the same!


  • Reply
    January 30, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    once i want 2 go there………..my wish…god knows when it wil complete……anybody vil invite me…………

    • Reply
      January 31, 2013 at 12:32 am

      I’m sure you’ll get there one day!

  • Reply
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    Tania Miranda
    May 16, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Lovely pictures 🙂 really wished I had done this back when me and my boyfriend were there, shame we didn’t know about it then. I just told him about it and hopefully we’ll be able to go back soon and do it!

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    March 18, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Can anyone explain to me the difference between the meaning of the locks on the Point des Arts and the Pont de l’Archeveche? I am going to Paris in the summer without my boyfriend and want to put a lock on one of the bridges but I’m unsure of the different meanings! Help!!!:)

  • Reply
    April 28, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Nicole,

    We design an awful lot of engraved padlocks which are clearly destined for the bridges in Paris.

    I really don’t think there’s any particular meaning associated to the bridges where you can secure your lock, although the Pont des Arts in particular has become known as ‘The Lovers Bridge’.

    Other than the bridges, there are also a number of other locations where you could lock your love. Remember that there’s no need to ‘follow the crowd’ – maybe find a more personal and intimate spot which feels special to you.

    Have a fun trip!

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