You have heard, of course, about the latest controversy in Paris : no love locks, save our bridges ! No less than 700 000 “cadenas d’amour” are threatening Paris bridges… City hall authorities are desperately trying to save the world-famous Pont des Arts and other bridges from damage from the thousands of padlocks left there by tourists and some locals as a pledge to their eternal devotion. Grand amour… The ritual has indeed spread to other bridges, notes The New York Times, -the Pont de l’Archevêché and the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir- “provoking a public battle between historical preservation and tourism interests, and prompting the new mayor, Anne Hidalgo, to direct a deputy to find new ways to express love”. “Paris is the capital of love, and we are all proud of that,” the city said in a statement issued a day after two glass panels appeared thursday in the middle of the bridge. “But there are other, more beautiful ways of showing love than attaching padlocks.” Hundred of articles have been written about it.
"Stupid, Cupid" ? What do you think ? We have chosen one piece, published in the sophisticated France Magazine, by Michel Faure. A great article. Tell us your reaction! This is Michel Faure’s view :
“’Stupid Cupid’, Connie Francis used to sing, back in the olden days (i.e., 1958). With love, anything can happen—the best and the worst, suffering and bliss. But padlocks on a Paris bridge?The symbolism is obvious: “You and me, bound by our love.” In more or less indelible ink, giddy lovebirds inscribe their initials and the date on a lock, attach it to the guardrail of the Pont des Arts, toss the key in the Seine and conclude the ritual with an enthusiastic French kiss at sunset, immortalized if possible by a selfie. The locks on the bridge—a delicate span connecting the Institut de France with the central courtyard of the Louvre—gleam in the late afternoon sunlight and look stunning from a distance. But as far as symbolism goes, it’s a bit heavy-handed. Several tons worth, in fact, according to experts.
Nothing should make us feel lighter than being happily in love. Love liberates us, delivers us from our anxieties. We’re in seventh heaven up there with the angels, winged creatures ready to fly to the next bed. The padlock, though, is an ambiguous symbol where love is concerned. It’s an object that serves to restrain, restrict and confine us. Serious stuff, if you think about it literally. That said, I haven’t seen any evidence of irony. No mischievous S&M aficionados attaching themselves to the bridge with a pair of handcuffs sheathed in red lace. Humor and mockery have no place here.
Clicking the padlock shut signifies the belief that love lasts forever. It’s a way of expressing one’s faith in the constancy of one’s feelings, I get that. But watch out, young people—if you feel shackled by your love, it won’t be long before you’re looking for ways to escape. Author Frédéric Biegbeder was probably exaggerating a little when he wrote his delightful novel L’Amour dure trois ans (Love Lasts Three Years).Personally, that seems a bit short. But one thing’s for sure—it’s not eternal. The proof? About one in three marriages in France and about one in two in the U.S. end in divorce. The time will come, my friends, when you’ll need a bolt-cutter to free your imprisoned heart. For in the words of Beaumarchais, “Of all serious things, marriage is the most ludicrous.”
It doesn’t help that all those lovers who attach their heavy padlocks to this fragile footbridge already seem mired in routine and conformity. Granted, the first one to come up with the idea—most likely in 2008—created a memorable, intimate moment; a lovely and moving affirmation of lifelong love, although that sort of promise requires the kind of confirmation that only time can provide. But the millions of others who came afterward invented nothing. They only followed the crowd, adopting a preexisting ritual without question.
Late at night, engineers regularly come and remove panels of the Pont des Arts that they believe are in danger of tumbling into the Seine, replacing them with others. People have begun worrying that this romantic ritual is undermining the very structure of the bridge, which is now so overloaded that lovers are starting to take their padlocks elsewhere. We’re now seeing the same phenomenon on the Pont de l’Archevêché, near Notre-Dame, and the Passerelle Léopold-Sédar Senghor, which connects the Musée d’Orsay to the Tuileries Garden. The fear is that one of these days a section might crash onto a barge or a bateau-mouche. But so far, City Hall is loath to ban this romantic ritual; it’s charming, attracts tourists and gives a boost to the lock industry, which financial analysts had never pegged as particularly promising.
“Paris is always a good idea,” Audrey Hepburn once declared. And it’s true, particularly for lovers. The city welcomes them with open arms. We Parisians are proud and delighted that so many of them choose to come here to celebrate their grand amour. But there are better things to do to seal your love than to sink a bridge with a mechanical object designed to secure a shed or keep a bicycle from being stolen.
Climb to the top of Montmartre at dawn to watch the sunrise over the city. Have coffee and croissants at a sidewalk café, enjoy a leisurely morning lounging in a hotel room with a fabulous view, take in a concert at a historic church or unearth a vintage treasure at the Marché aux Puces on the weekend. And in the evening, when the sun goes down, take a cruise on the Seine. There’s nothing more magical … provided, of course, that a few hundred kilos of padlocks don’t fall on your head when you sail under the Pont des Arts.” Michel Faure
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