It’s become tradition for lovestruck tourists to declare their affections by hanging padlocks off Parisian landmarks and throwing the keys into the Seine. The biggest targets are the Pont des Arts and Pont de l'Archevêché, a pair of bridges which groan beneath the weight of at least 45 tons of these “love locks”. Last June, this became, literally, too much for the Pont des Arts to bear, and a five foot stretch of its fence collapsed .
So how do you stop people destroying your historic landmarks through the sheer weight of their love? If you’re Paris, you use social media. The city authorities have joined up with something called the “No Love Locks” campaign to convince tourists that taking selfies is way more romantic than attaching bits of metal to stuff. The bridge is now adorned with posters suggesting visitors post their photos on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag “#lovewithoutlocks”. Here’s a sample of the contributions so far:
Sickening, isn’t it.
The city’s tactics also include other, slightly angrier signs:
— Sacha Quester-Séméon (@sachaqs) August 13, 2014
There’s even a petition calling on mayor Anne Hidalgo to make the practice illegal; at time of writing, it has around 9,500 signatures. In June, Hildago stated that she wouldn’t ban tourists from using the padlocks, but did suggest police would “dissuade” vendors from selling them near the city’s bridges.
Similar padlocks have actually appeared on landmarks in other cities in Germany, Belgium and Japan.