Friday, February 13, 2015

Of Love and Romance: Locked Lips or Love Locks in Paris


[Rachel Note:  so excited to be able to share this post, originally found on Sandra Byrd's blog, for part of Of Love and Romance. Sandra is a versatile and supremely romantic voice in contemporary and historical fiction. Her most recent, Mist of Midnight, is a glorious gothic set in the ultra- Romantic Victorian era. ]



When I first told a friend that I was writing a post on the Love Locks of Paris, she teasingly asked if they related to chastity locks: those early medieval belts by which a Crusaders was supposed to reassure himself that his girl would remain true. Not quite!

Wander along the lovely Seine in Paris; stop at any number of bridges to enjoy a crepe, and the view. Many place you’ll notice the webbed metal railings alongside the stonemasonry and clasped to them are hundreds, often thousands, of padlocks. Sometimes they’re thinly scattered, with ribbons aflutter, sometimes they’re as thick as hoarding like bees on a honeycomb.

Locked Lips or Love Locks in Paris?


Although locks with lovers names have a history throughout European bridges dating back perhaps a hundred years, in Paris, they only began to show up in 2000. Most often they have “his” and “her” names on either side of the lock and then are hooked, permanently they hope, to the side of a bridge in the City of Light and Love. As long as the lock, lasts, so goes the hope, so shall the love.


According to an article in The New York Times, “The Paris town hall expressed concern: what about the architectural integrity of the Parisian landscape? One night about two years ago, someone cut through the wires and removed all the locks on one of the bridges. But in just a few months, locks of all sizes and colors reappeared, more conspicuous than ever.”


Alas, keeping love alive requires more than simply firmly clasping a lock to keep your lover true, whether it be a chastity lock or hooking a Shlage or Kwikset through the rails of a Parisian bridge. As French philosopher Marcel Proust, “We only love what we do not wholly possess.” Isn’t that the very opposite of a lockdown? Much better to lock lips, and perhaps put a ring on it, instead.




What do you say – delightful ode to eternal love or deadly-locked display? What makes love last for you?

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1 comment:

Leah Polonenko said...

I'm really not sure the point of your post, to be honest. When you write "Alas, keeping love alive requires more than simply firmly clasping a lock to keep your lover true, whether it be a chastity lock or hooking a Shlage or Kwikset through the rails of a Parisian bridge", or when you ask how your reader keeps love alive, no one, absolutely no one, who ever put a lock on a bridge (myself included during a very elaborate engagement scheme from my husband) would have anything to say about the lock itself. It's symbolism - material things don't make love; they merely symbolize it.

In the same way that no one whoever wore a wedding ring things the ring possesses powers to have love - these things are all symbolic. Symbols can't make love - but they are beautiful gestures and a wonderful display to the world of love.

So, again, I'm just not sure the point of your post because it's a question that no one is answering with "oh the love locks make our love!" They're a symbol. Everyone who participates knows this. The end.