February 14th, 2015

Dr. Tony Kovatch told us about this French “Bridge of Love” in last summer’s Mind On The Run essay (“The Busker Under The Bridge”):

The Pont des Arts footbridge crosses the Seine River in the heart of Paris and offers a grand view of both the Louvre and the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Covering the grillwork of the railings of this bridge are the so-called “locks of love.” Tradition has it that those wishing for a love affair that will be locked in for a lifetime (not just a mistress relationship — there are other bridges for this) can purchase a padlock from a vendor at the entrance to the bridge, inscribe their initials and terms of endearment on the body of the lock, and attach it to the railing where it shall remain forever. This is because the key is flung into the Seine — never to be retrieved from the bottom of the river.


Now, Itasaka and Tur say there’s trouble in the “City of Love”:

As many as three quarters of a million metal locks now cover the bridge, forcing the city government to step in and ask tourists to demonstrate their romantic commitment in other ways.

Last year part of the bridge collapsed under the weight of the locks, and officials responded by covering a section with plywood. Then the wood became festooned with graffiti, so it was replaced by temporary glass panels.


Where there’s trouble there’s controversy, and Americans find themselves in the middle of it on this Valentine’s Day:

Among those attaching a ‘love lock’ in Paris on Saturday — Valentine’s Day — was Peter Concepcion, from Los Angeles, and his wife, Ivy Gambo. “Happy wife, happy life,” said Peter. “I guess it is a city of love tradition, people do it all the time. It’s been her for years. Might as well take part in it.”

But Lisa Taylor-Huff, an American who lives in Paris, had decided to take action, saying the city hasn’t done enough to stop the practice.

Her No Love Locks website has collected 10,000 signatures, and spreads the word about the problematic locks.


Read “Mind On The Run: The Busker Under The Bridge” by Dr. Tony Kovatch here.


(Photo: Tony Kovatch, M.D.)


2 Responses to Love-Locked On Valentine’s Day

  1. Thanks, Ned, for reprising my story—but I think that even if the authorities outlaw the locks, the lovers will devise another means of objectifying their feelings toward each other.


    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Dr. Ketyer has special interests in developmental pediatrics and preventative medicine, specifically how nutrition and the environment affect health. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. He completed his residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

    As one of the founding physicians of Pediatric Alliance, PC, Dr. Ketyer served as its president from 1997-2004. He has been practicing general pediatrics at Pediatric Alliance since 1990. Dr. Ketyer and his wife have three boys and live in Pittsburgh's South Hills. 

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