PARIS — For years, padlocks have been latched by lovers on Paris’ Pont des Arts bridge as a symbol of their everlasting bond. But it turns out the little tokens of lifelong affection won’t be so permanent after all.
French officials will bid adieu to the locks and start removing them on Monday after sections of the railings became “weakened under the weight,” the city’s council said on its website. That poses a risk to people using the bridge, authorities say.
“We want all the people who are in love, we want them to come to Paris but we don’t want them to use love locks,” said Bruno Julliard, the first deputy to the mayor of Paris.
But some romantic visitors told NBC News that they were shocked that their tokens of love would be removed.
Londoner Gary Pearson, who pledged his love to Australian partner Ezra Ahorro, said he was “disappointed” that their padlock's days were numbered.
Gwendolyn Lau, who placed a lock with her husband Loke Seong Huay, said she was “shocked” that it would soon vanish.
Members of advocacy group No Love Locks, which has been urging the city to ban the practice outright, were delighted by the decision.
Their website describes the locks as “vandalism that damages the city and hurts the people of France — culturally, economically and emotionally.”
"The idea of a love lock is not the issue," said Lisa Anselmo, a U.S. citizen who co-founded the campaign with fellow American Lisa Taylor Huff. "But going to another country and putting a lock on their heritage sites is by definition, vandalism."
She added: "We are not anti-love or against tourists, but as a visitor we think it is about being sympathetic and respectful of their cultural heritage."