The XX Factor

If You Must Affix a Symbol of Your Love to a Bridge, Here Are Some Better Options

Lovers hang a padlock on the steel bar of the Pont des Arts to symbolize how they are locked together forever, trapped.

Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images

An alarmist report about a footbridge in Paris that “collapsed” under the weight of the more than 700,000 “love locks” spread rapidly on the Internet this week. The tradition of lovers putting a lock on the Pont des Arts bridge over the Seine—and throwing away the key as a symbol of a lifelong commitment—started a few years ago, and because anything love-related immediately turns into a competitive sport, the railing on the bridge has become completely overwhelmed with padlocks.

Turns out, the story of collapse was way overblown (part of the mesh fencing that is attached to the railing peeled off and fell over, and it’s been replaced), but that does not vindicate this asinine ritual. Can there be any creepier symbol of “love” than a locked padlock with the key thrown away? What next? Affixing miniature cages to the Verrazano?

If you find yourself in Paris and feel compelled to ritually attach something to a bridge as a symbol of your love, here are some less hideous and destructive options.

Flowers. As Kim and Kanye have amply demonstrated, a wall of flowers is far better looking than a wall of padlocks. More to the point, flowers die, just like us: You can tie a rose to the bridge and contemplate the inevitable disintegration of your “forever” love, which will happen even if you manage to stay together until death. Then go visit the Catacombs and really round out a day of contemplating mortality, which is a far more Euro-romantic way to spend your time than taking couples selfies over the Seine. 

A lock of your lover’s hair. A lock of hair was the symbol of romance in the Victorian era, so why not recapture the magic by tying tufts of human hair to the bridge today? Bonus: The phrase “Love locks” still works!

A wine bottle cork tied to a ribbon. To commemorate how you and your lover actually spent your time in Paris.

A wedding photo. You spent all that money on pictures that will, in all likelihood, be looked at once before heading to that corner in the closet where you store stuff you feel pressure to keep. Surely you can spare one for your public.