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Paris Officials Begin Removing Love Locks From Iconic Bridges


The city of romance has had enough of love - well, love locks. Officials in Paris say the padlocks attached to bridges by lovebirds threaten the city's historic architecture and public safety. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley sent this report.

ZAKIA ERROUSSI: (Speaking French).

SHERIFF NACIM: (Speaking French).

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Moroccan tourists Sheriff Nacim and Zakia Erroussi showed up this morning at the Pont des Arts footbridge to attach their love lock and throw the key in the Seine River. But to their consternation, the bridge was closed to the public. City workers were busy removing sections of its padlocked-coated railings and loading them into a truck.

NACIM: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: "This was what made the charm of Paris," says Nacim. "It was for people to show their eternal love."

ERROUSSI: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: His girlfriend, Erroussi, worries what the city will do with all the locks, which she says are of deep sentimental value to someone. Italian tourist Francesco Abbatar says the locks do not destroy the beauty of the bridge.

FRANCESCO ABBATAR: No, it's - it create another form of the bridge. It means more.

BEARDSLEY: So this bridge means more with the padlocks on it?

ABBATAR: Yes, I think so (laughter).

BEARDSLEY: But city officials say all that love has taken a toll on this delicate copy of a Napoleonic footbridge. The 700,000 locks weighed an estimated 45 tons, causing some of the railings to collapse. After trying to encourage tourists to take selfies instead, the city turned to more drastic measures. Deputy Mayor Bruno Julliard came out to reassure tourists.

BRUNO JULLIARD: It's possible to say I love you or to have a romantic trip in Paris without putting love locks on the bridges. Paris will stay the city of love.

BEARDSLEY: The campaign to clear the locks from all the bridges in Paris was started by two Americans. One of them is Lisa Anselmo. She says this is a good start.

LISA ANSELMO: And if someone wants to be loving, this is the best way to do it, not to put a lock on the bridge, to really respect the places you visit and the cultural heritage of those people.

BEARDSLEY: One of those people is Parisian Denise Charensol, who says she's grateful.

DENISE CHARENSOL: Very proud that two Americans don't like the locks.

BEARDSLEY: The city of Paris will soon replace this bridge's railings with specially designed clear panels. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.
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