The Pont des Arts is a wood-slatted pedestrian bridge across the Seine with a short chain-link fence and hand rail on each side. It runs from the Louvre on the right bank to the Institute de France on the left bank and offers a splendid view of the tip of the Ile de la Cite. It is a peaceful pleasure to stroll across this simple bridge, without having to hear traffic rushing past as is the case with other bridges across the river.
As Richard and I walked across the Pont des Arts today, I realized that there were thousands of locks attached to the chain-link fencing. When I examined them more closely, I saw that they were locks of all shapes and sizes and colors — padlocks, bicycle chain locks, bar locks, and combination locks — and on each lock a couple had written their names. Apparently the tradition is that the couple puts their names on a lock, affixes the lock to the fence, and then throws the key into the water, so that their names and the memories of their trip remain part of Paris forever.
It’s a cool tradition — and probably a smart one for the Paris tourist industry, too, because I imagine many couples return to Paris several years later to see whether their lock is still on the bridge. Richard says there is a similar “love lock” bridge in Italy.
I don’t think this bridge existed when Kish and I visited Paris in in 1992. In any case, we never got a chance to put a lock on the bridge. Skipper, we will have to come and put our lock on the Pont des Arts someday soon!