Next year, hopeless romantics and Paris aficionados will have the chance to own a little bit of French history in the form of the city’s famous “love locks.” The padlocks, clipped mostly by tourists on the historic pedestrian bridge, Pont des Arts, will be auctioned off early next year, and funds raised from the sale will be donated to groups working with refugees.
“This is the true meaning of love in action,” said Lisa Anselmo, an American living in Paris who is the cofounder of the preservation group No Love Locks, which has been campaigning for their removal since January 2014.
For years, couples have been hanging padlocks on bridges around the world as a symbol of their love for each other. Some believe the practice began in ancient China, with lovers padlocking a gate and then throwing away the key, sealing their love forever. Others think it originated right before World War II, in the Serbian town of Vrnjacka Banja, when a woman died of a broken heart when her lover went to the front lines and fell in love with another. Village women began putting locks bearing the name of their beloved on a local bridge, to avoid a similar fate.
It seems to have been popularized more recently thanks to a 2006 young adult novel by Italian author Federico Moccia; the tradition is believed to have made its way to the City of Love in 2008.
While the gesture of sealing one’s love forever may seem romantic, it is nothing but a scourge to authorities in Paris, where parts of the fence on the historic Pont des Arts bridge collapsed under the weight of the extra metal. It’s akin to littering, critics say.
In the summer of 2015, city officials began removing the offending bits of hardware. So far, they have removed roughly 1 million, which amounts to around 65 tons of scrap metal, according to European news network The Local.
Now, the city has found a way to celebrate love and pay it forward at the same time. Authorities in Paris will auction off 10 tons of locks and give the proceeds to groups that work with refugees.
The refugee crisis has brought thousands of migrants to the city, especially since the dismantling of the “Jungle” in Calais, France, one of the largest migrant camps in Europe. Now there are thousands of migrants sleeping on the streets of the French capital.
The Parisian initiative auctioning off the love locks seems like a relatively easy way to help.
“Members of the public can buy five or 10 locks, or even clusters of them, all at an affordable price,” said Bruno Julliard, first deputy mayor of Paris. “All of the proceeds will be given to those who work in support and in solidarity of the refugees in Paris.”
Julliard also said the city hoped to make about 100,000 euros in the auction, and anything that isn’t sold will be melted and sold as scrap. (SD-Agencies)
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