“Everything feels heart-shaped in Paris.”
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Paris three times so far, experiencing completely different sights and sounds and inspirations each time.
It was by chance that the last time I was there, my husband and I discovered the Passerelle des Arts, or ‘Lover’s Bridge’, which has been a romantic frivolity for the last few years.
The idea is for couples to lock their own personal cadenas d’amour – love padlocks – to the fence, etched with their initials, and throw the keys into the Seine to ‘lock their love together forever’.
Yes, a bit cheesy, but the kind of thing you do as a tourist in the city of love. So we did.
At first I wondered where we were going to get a padlock, but luckily all the tourist shops are well stocked on this front, and from the prices – I saw one at 9 euros – make a nice profit selling to star-crossed lovers.
We opted for a heart-shaped red version with ‘Paris’ in white lettering (tres chic!). There was no ritual of throwing the keys into the Seine while locked in a passionate embrace however, as it was a combination lock.
I’ve got the photographs so that’s enough. I’m also glad we didn’t contaminate the Seine any further, but also feel a bit bad that we contributed to a part of the bridge collapsing last year. Not romantic. And now the padlocks have probably all been moved. C’est la vie.
I was fascinated by the variety of padlocks on display though and took a load of photos. It was like a mini art installation that everyone could participate in. Some people had gone to a lot of trouble writing their names and love messages in permanent marker or nail varnish or Tippex, and a few even had proper engravings on. Yes. I know. Engravings – pre-meditated romance!
The trend has sprung up in other cities now too. We spotted a similar padlocked bridge in Helsinki last year.
Everything view, every sight or sound in Paris is a cliché, but it doesn’t matter.
After locking our love together we wandered into the Jardin de Tuileries, where swans skimmed the pond (were there really swans? Or did I just make that up because it felt like they were there? Maybe it was just a few oiseaux. It seemed like there were swans.)
In the cemetery at Montparnasse, initials and a heart were etched into this tree, just metres from the graves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.
She was ready to deny the existence of space and time rather than admit that love might not be eternal.”
Simone de Beauvoir