Last week I enjoyed a lovely trip to Paris. I worked there ooh, thirty years ago, and soon remembered how to navigate my way around the underground and ask for the most important thing, in French – a cafe and gateau! In fact, my romantic memories of the place inspired my 2014 novel From Paris with Love. And not much had changed. The underground still smelt musty! The Sacre Coeur still stole my heart. It was perfect April weather, with blue skies and lots of pink blossom. We enjoyed Tunisian tagines in St Michel, the bustle of the shoppers in the Champs Elysees and husband and I got a little carried away, kissing under the Eiffel Tower 🙂
However, there was one thing that was unexpected and different – padlocks, bearing sweethearts names, EVERYWHERE. Apparently they used to be fixed largely on one of the Parisian bridges, the Pont des Arts, but by 2015 there were almost one million. Structurally, the bridge was beginning to suffer with the weight, so the authorities cut them off.
However, undeterred, tourists now fix them in other places – for example in a statue’s hand…
Or on a pavement chain…
I really enjoyed reading the different messages engraved on the variety of coloured locks – although to others they could be seen as environmentally destructive or as eyesores. And whilst I appreciated them, would I follow this tradition myself? Apparently this symbolic gesture has been made for centuries across the world and padlocks can be seen in many capitals now. But what if you break up badly with your partner or spouse? Would you really want a permanent symbol of that relationship existing or even standing proud? Personally, no! Certainly not if it was in my locality. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was out of sight, in another continent.
Still, it inspired me, as a romance writer. My heart warms at the thought of besotted couples wanting to express their love in such a public manner.
To me they simply add to the beauty of possibly the most charming city in the world.