Saturday, 30 March 2013

Paris Day 2: Pont de Arts

Walking into Bridge of Love Locks Blindly.

5 °C

After the delicious lunch, Ada directed me to our next item on the itinerary: Le Panthéon. By the time we got there after some 10 mins walk later, we were greeted by a shut gate. I don't believe we were late. As it turned out, the building I was taken to wasn't the Panthéon, but in fact Institut de France. To an untrained eyes, they could easily mistaken for each other, especially if you aren't that familiar with either building. I didn't realise then, even though we had been to the Panthéon (mind you, that was 10 years ago).

Pantheon, Paris
source: the Traveling Pear under CC license

Institut de France
Not quite identical twins, but it's understandable that when you see Institut de France, you thought you have arrived at Pantheon, and considered fait accompli. Well, it wasn't so much the similarity of the 2 buildings that confused Etta, it was the similarity of the 2 directions: one is SE, and the other NE from Les Deux Magots. It's easy to confuse north with south. So we decided to stick around the place for awhile as it was already near dusk.

We strolled towards Pont des Arts bridge that spans across the Seine just in front of the Institut. I guess sometimes you got lost and found something unexpected. I've never heard of Pont de Arts, apparently, it's quite well known in France for its romantic associations - romantic attachments to be exact - with love locks.

Without the love padlocks, this is probably the least romantic bridge there is on the Seine. It's  in fact rather ugly with or without the locks. The bridge is franked with metal wired lattice that are used to built animal cages. I guess the bridge is deliberately designed that way so that locks could be easily affixed.

Love padlocks on Pont des Arts, Paris, France
Love padlocks on Pont des Arts
Bicycle chain lock bent into a heart shape

Love locks, Pont de Arts, Paris, France
Heart shaped pink love lock
Some locks are already rusting away
The government deemed it an eyesore and tried to remove it. If it isn't eyesores now to the romantics, it would be when they all become chunks of rusty metals. Many are already rusting away.

I first seen such 'tradition' of love padlocks was on a travelogue on TV about Huangshan in China. Last year when I visited Etta's dad in Woolongong, Australia. He took us to Mount Keira lookout, and there it was on the fencing are such love padlocks appeared. This gave me the impression that such practise is spreading from China to Australia like (put in your appropriate expression).

Initially thought they only appear on eco-tourist destinations. Pont des Arts proved my first impressions to be wrong. They're spreading everywhere (like European tourists in Paris on Easter Weekend), from nature to the city, from Asia to Europe, from mountain to the city. The next thing you know it, the gate to my door. Phew! There's only one love padlock there.

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