It started as a charming tourist phenomenon – Lovers, mostly tourists, engrave their name on a padlock and attach it to the fence along each side of the Pont des Arts, the old footbridge connecting the Institut de France and the Louvre, then throw the key into the Seine below. What could be more romantic?

Couple looking

Will they or won’t they? A couple surveys the locks, with the Louvre in the background

There is not yet a law against it. But the law that governs anything and everything — the Law of Unintended Consequences — is enforcing itself with a vengeance. There are so many locks on the bridge railings that some have collapsed. The market has attracted lock vendors, themselves a form of pollution, and the crowds are dense. And engraved names are a thing of the past. Now, think Sharpie. And there are so many locks you can no longer see through the fencing, or find places for new ones. So creative lovers have started expanding the lock frontier. The other day I found several of them on a trash can.

Trash can

No room on the railing? Lock up the poubelle

The city is doing its best to discourage new locks. Most recently, it has covered several parts of the railing with plywood and encouraged lovers to sign and take a selfie, or maybe just take a selfie.

Sign plywood

This couple got the word

Where to put the next lock?

Dense locks

Locks, locks, locks

Some interesting links

Rude Baguette

Love locks collapse bridge rail, from BBC, with a nice video that sets the scene.

Are love locks on the bridge romantic or a menace?  BBC

Weight of love too much for the bridge, from Deutsche Welle

The anti-lock movement on Twitter: #LoveWithoutLocks

The anti-lock movement in Paris:

(Photos by John Pearce)