“Lock your love and throw away the key forever” says a cardboard sign on the Pont des Arts, an elegant pedestrian bridge crossing the Seine river in Paris.
The sign was placed there by a hawker selling small brass padlocks and souvenir Eiffel towers on the bridge.
The idea is lovers coming from around the world to whisper sweet nothings to each other on this bridge can symbolically seal their love with a tiny padlock attached to the bridge’s railings, and then, as the sign suggests, throw away the key in the Seine river, down below.
Romantic isn’t it?
But the symbolic gesture has proven incredibly contagious, and very difficult to get rid of.
It’s spread to other bridges in Paris where it is causing a headache for city officials concerned about damage to the bridges’ railings, from rust and weight, among other issues.
Many of these locks have been removed, sometimes with entire sections of the railings.
The contagion has also spread to other bridges worldwide, and the Brooklyn bridge in New York is now displaying its fair share of love padlocks.
Perhaps it’s time to come up with another, less cumbersome tradition.