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Romantic Tourists Broke a Famous Bridge in Paris This Weekend

And no, not in the way that you're thinking.

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Love can move mountains, but it’s not great for infrastructure: a world-famous bridge in Paris was evacuated this weekend after it partially collapsed under the weight of romantic tokens, so don’t sweat your solitude! At least loneliness can’t destroy landmarks (I think).

The 150-meter long Pont des Arts bridge is famous for the countless keepsakes left on its parapet—since 2008, couples have been attaching engraved locks to the bridge and then throwing the key into the Seine as a gesture of faith in their love. The tradition might be sweet (I guess) but the bridge’s collapse comes as no surprise to the citizens of Paris, many of whom have been calling for an end to the mementos for months.

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In January, a group of concerned citizens started No Love Locks, a campaign to address “the plague” endangering the bridge’s aesthetic and structural integrity. The group’s manifesto explains:

the city is forced to remove and replace locks-covered panels more frequently and so that they [...] can then sell more locks to crazed tourists. Parisians are horrified by the scene, and now avoid going there altogether. Why should the residents of Paris be unable to enjoy their own architectural heritage, and also be expected to pay (through our taxes) for the constant replacement of bridge panels whenever the excessive weight of the locks causes them to collapse?

Carolyn Barnabo was originally one of the “crazed tourists” who put a lock on the bridge when was married in 2009, but told the BBC that she “weep[s] with regret and guilt and despair that I’ve contributed to this hideous sight”.

The  epidemic is no longer specific to Pont des Arts, either—No Love Locks estimates that there are up to 1 million locks on 11 different bridges throughout the city as well as the Eiffel Tower, and that number may be increasing by the hundreds every day.  The BBC attributes the trend’s origins to the 2006 book Ho Voglia Di Te (I Want You).

In the future, Parisians hope tourists can create romantic memories without leaving a mess and damaging historic landmarks, because if the lock tradition continues, soon it’ll be in-seine.

I’ll see myself out, world.

(via BBC and The Daily Telegraph, original image via Andrej Blagojevic and Fabrizio Sciami)

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