Locking love in Paris and beyond
The bridges of Paris are under lock and key, but it's no security measure. Lovers from around the world have chosen to signify their love with padlocks on nearby railings - a tradition that rankles some Parisians, but nonetheless continues to blossom.
The concept is simple. Two lovers take a padlock, secure it to wire mesh or railings on a bridge, and throw the key into the nearby river. It's a symbol of everlasting love, lest one person in the pairing chooses to go diving for the key. In the city of love, some have taken issue to the ritual, which is seen as an effrontery to everything from architecture to bridge safety to the very idea of love itself. For this reason, it may be worthwhile to seek out the locks before one of Paris' cutest sights is ever removed permanently.
Alternatively, though, it's possible to find those locks in locations that are just as awe-inspiring and perhaps more open to the idea.
The Parisian problem
Notre Dame is located in the heart of Paris - a fitting location for travelers who wish to express their own inner feelings and desires. Along the bridges of the Pont de l'Archevêché and Pont des Arts are likely thousands of these locks, many with couples' initials carved into them. While the origin of the tradition is unclear, there's no doubt about their presence, which creeps along rails and posts like ivy.
In a recent report on CNN, local U.S. resident Lisa Taylor Huff explained potential problems of the locks, including the spread of rust from lock to bridge and from key to river, and structural concerns over the weight of all those locks. She is not the first to raise concern, however. Paris town hall has expressed its own worries over the architectural integrity of the city, according to The New York Times. Some Parisians are also bothered by the metaphor itself, with many French understanding love as defined by a freedom and selflessness, according to the news source. Locks and chains, then, are the antithesis of love.
There and beyond
While there have been some attempts to remove the locks, it's still possible to see them near the Seine River. Of course, travelers can come across the locks in many major cities including Vienna, Prague, Seoul and Rome. As CNN noted, China's most romantic mountain - Huangshan - is also covered with the locks on its mountain trails. Unique Honeymoon magazine also suggests travelers lock their love in Cologne, Moscow, Montevideo and even Guam.