PARIS — The padlocks that weigh heavily on the sides of the Pont des Arts tell stories dear to the lovers who affixed them to the celebrated bridge’s iron grillwork.
And just as many romances melt away, now many of the locks will most likely suffer the same fate as the Paris city fathers try to preserve the bridge.
City workers, using a crane and wheeled dollies, began to dismantle the wire mesh panels on which hundreds of thousands of lovers expressed their affections in what they thought would be an ironclad statement: a metal lock, usually etched with the couple’s initials, attached to the bridge, and the key tossed into the Seine below.
Bruno Julliard, the deputy mayor in charge of culture, who supervised the removal of the locks, tried to be sensitive to the feelings of those who had placed them there, saying that Paris was still “the capital of love, the capital of romance.” But he urged people to find other ways to express their fervency.
City officials have for months discussed removing the locks and protecting the bridge, first built in the early 1800s and reconstructed in the 1980s. Worries about seeming insensitive or oblivious to the popularity of such a lasting declaration of affection were one factor officials considered when they tried to figure out how best to restore the landmark bridge.