What do you think about the padlocks on the Pont des Arts, this iconic metallic footbridge in the heart of Paris? To many, they resemble walls of adoration symbolizing everlasting love and to others simply an eyesore that pollute the sweeping city views and the River Seine below (the keys from the padlocks get thrown into the river)...
In either case, the Pont des Arts is suffering from the shimmering yet weighty force of love.
Since its debut in 1804 under Napoleon I, Pont des Arts has had its share of turmoil - bombarded from both World Wars, hits from river traffic and a barge that nearly collapsed half the structure in 1979 (and most recently, a railing that fell this past summer from the massive weight of the locks).
The current day Pont des Arts, rebuilt in 1984 from all its damages and deficiencies, is an identical reconstruction of the original design, albeit a few structural changes that make the bridge more sound and more align with its neighbor to the east, the Pont Neuf.
There is now a NoLoveLocks petition to stop romantics from locking their love onto the railings of Pont des Arts as well as other bridges around Paris (along with the Eiffel Tower!).
Despite all the controversy, whenever I step onto the Pont des Arts, I can't help thinking this:
One thing will never change, and that is the frisson of nostalgia, the romantic flush that overcomes you when you stop on the Pont des Arts and gaze upriver towards the Ile de la Cité, the historic center of Paris that was the home of kings until the 14th century... (essayist Gina Doggett)