Fast forward just a few years, and Paris’s “bridge of love” is crumbling under the insane amount of locks that it has accrued. City officials are now taking down the bridge’s inserts–locks and all–and temporarily replacing them with street-art panels. Later, these will be replaced again with custom plexiglass panels, so that the Seine River can once again be seen from the bridge.
The grates and locks will all be relocated to storage, until the city decides what to do with the massive amount of metal. It is speculated that much of the metal will be melted down, but some sections may be donated to charities as works of art.
Deputy Mayor Bruno Julliard addresses the media about the lock removal on June 1st, 2015.
Tourists and locals alike gathered to watch as crews worked on the removal. One onlooker, Anthony Boccanfuso, said, “From a distance, you don’t know that they are locks. Close up, they may be visually ugly, but they tell stories. It’s like carving your names on a tree or putting your names in wet concrete. I understand the reasons for removing them, but I’m glad I saw it.”
One of those reasons–besides the damage to the historic bridge–is the concern that the heavy, lock-laden panels could give way and crash into boaters on the river.
If you are one of the many owners of a lock on the Pont des Arts Bridge and want to get it back, you might be in luck. Since the news broke that the locks were being removed, Phileas Le cléateur has been removing some of the older, vintage padlocks people have shackled to the bridge. He has an Instagram account with pictures of the roughly 400 locks he has saved from an uncertain fate. If yours is one of the rescued ones, he will send it back to you as long as you provide photographic evidence that it’s yours and pay for the shipping.