Paris is Auctioning Its ‘Love Locks’ to Help a Noble Cause

In the past 18 months, Paris City Council has removed a whopping 65 tonnes of  ‘love locks’ from the city’s historic bridges. The fate of the iconic locks has been unclear until recently when Bruno Jilliard, the council’s first deputy, announced a heartwarming solution to the problem.

The 1 million padlocks that have been cut down since the council’s decision in 2015 will be sold to members of the public that want to own a piece of Parisian history.

“All of the proceeds will be given to those who work in support and in solidarity of the refugees in Paris. Members of the public can buy five or 10 locks, or even clusters of them, all at an affordable price. ” – Bruno Jilliard, Paris City Council.

It’s estimated that the sale could raise up to €100,000 ($106,000).

A Tradition Gone Wrong

The tradition of attaching padlocks to bridges became popular after an Italian author named Federico Moccia wrote about it in one of his romance novels in 2006. The ritual started in Rome and spread to Paris in 2008, with couples travelling from all over the world to attach their lock and throw the key into the water below as a symbol of their undying love. It became a beloved piece of Parisian history.


But by 2012, the popularity of the practice became problematic. At its peak, the Pont des Arts carried more than 700,000 locks, which is equivalent to the weight of roughly 20 elephants. The grill work on the bridge would regularly collapse.

collapseA worker removes "love padlocks" attached on the railings of the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris on June 1, 2015. Started by tourists in Paris in 2008, the love locks ritual, which also spread in the early 2000s to cities including New York, Seoul and London, has resulted in the transformation of several bridges : every inch of their railings is now covered with clunky brass padlocks. AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN (Photo credit should read STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

The council would replace it, only to see it filled again just two weeks later. Fear began to mount surrounding the structural integrity of the bridge, and officials were forced to take firmer action.

A total ban was introduced and the 1 million locks were slowly removed from Paris’ many bridges. Glass panelling was installed to prevent tourists from attaching new ones.

Reactions were mixed, with many people saddened by the end of the beloved tradition. But with this new decision by the council, seems like the locks will live on and spread a new wave of love to those in need.

The ‘Love Lock’ auction will take place this Spring.

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