Friday, June 22, 2018

The City of Love (and locks)

Without love, what is Paris? And yet what is a trip to Paris without unfettered vistas of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre or Notre Dame from bridges over the River Seine?

Concerns about scenery are clashing with sentimentality in the City of Love over a profusion of padlocks hitched by lovers on bridges as symbols of everlasting "amour" — locks that some decry as an eyesore.

Part of a global phenomenon, the craze has grown in Paris recently and now two American women who call Paris home have had enough. They've launched a petition to try to get the city's mostly laissez-faire officials to do something.

In urban myth, it goes like this: Latch a padlock to a bridge railing and chuck the key into the water as you make a wish. Some say the tradition has its roots in 19th-century Hungary. Others cite a recent Italian novel as the inspiration.

Campaigners Lisa Taylor Huff and Lisa Anselmo are denouncing what they call a padlock plague, warning of alleged safety risks and arguing the craze is now a cliche. Their petition, at change.org , says "the heart of Paris has been made ugly" by the locks and the Seine has been polluted by thousands of keys.

Plus, they say, tourists shouldn't be fooled: The locks aren't forever. City crews regularly remove them.

But their campaign is a hard sell in a metropolis facing myriad problems from air pollution to a housing crunch. Plus, city authorities have no desire to dampen Paris' reputation as one of the world's most romantic retreats.

The government of Anne Hidalgo, Paris' new mayor, is contemplating how to respond. Options range from fines to signs encouraging tourists to be responsible, but for now, it's the status quo — no restrictions.

"It's spontaneous. And it shows tourists and Parisians are attached to the symbol of Paris as the City of Love," said a City Hall spokeswoman.

Anselmo's and Huff's top complaint is the Pont des Arts, a historic pedestrian bridge near the Louvre. Locks also cling en masse on a bridge near Notre Dame Cathedral and some have even cropped up on the Eiffel Tower.

"We're not heartless, celibate people with no love in our lives. It's because we love the city," said Huff. "Do we want this to be the city of locks?"

As she spoke on the Pont des Arts, the bridge shimmered in the sun from thousands of rusting locks on its rails.

"We really can't blame the tourists for doing what they think they're allowed to do," said Huff, a writer who also works booking visitor reservations. "If tourists aren't going to be responsible by themselves, it's up to the city to set the limits."

Other cities have found ways to cope with the lock mania. In Russia, artificial "trees" offer a dedicated padlock area. A mayor in Florence, Italy, reportedly has threatened fines for those who put locks on the famed Ponte Vecchio.

Comments
Florida education news: Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit, immigrant education, tutoring troubles and more

Florida education news: Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit, immigrant education, tutoring troubles and more

TAKE A KNEE: Lawyers for the Pasco County school district say students do not have an unqualified, clearly established right to kneel during the daily pledge to the flag, rebutting a family's lawsuit contending otherwise.SUMMER LEARNING: So...
Updated: 15 minutes ago

Forecast: Muggy and hot with a chance of rain for Pride festivities

As the first weekend of summer swings in, it appears Tampa Bay should expect more heat, humidity and a chance of afternoon showers.Increased moisture in the Gulf of Mexico will result in scattered showers and isolated storms for coastal areas of Tamp...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Internet sales tax ruling could have major impact in Florida

Internet sales tax ruling could have major impact in Florida

From The News Service of Florida:A U.S. Supreme Court decision expanding the ability of states to collect sales taxes from online purchases could have a significant impact in Florida.In a 5-4 decision, the court on Thursday upheld a South Dakota law ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

AP Top News at 7:49 a.m. EDT

AP Top News at 7:49 a.m. EDT
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump tells GOP to 'stop wasting their time' on immigration

Trump tells GOP to 'stop wasting their time' on immigration

President Donald Trump says Republican lawmakers should stop 'wasting their time' on immigration bill because any measure the House passes is doomed in the Senate anyway
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rival Koreas agree to August reunions of war-split families

Rival Koreas agree to August reunions of war-split families

North and South Korea have agreed to hold temporary reunions of families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War as they boost reconciliation efforts amid a diplomatic push to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hamilton, Bottas fastest during 1st French GP practice

Hamilton, Bottas fastest during 1st French GP practice

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas posted the top two times during the opening practice session for Formula One's French Grand Prix on Friday
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rival Koreas agree to August reunions of war-split families

Rival Koreas agree to August reunions of war-split families

North and South Korea have agreed to hold temporary reunions of families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War as they boost reconciliation efforts amid a diplomatic push to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis
Updated: 1 hour ago

Activists: Syrian government steps up offensive in southwest

Syrian activists: Government forces keep up pressure on strategic southwest, drop barrel bombs on rebel-held areas
Updated: 1 hour ago
South Korean president in Russia to boost economic ties

South Korean president in Russia to boost economic ties

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is in Moscow on a state visit intended to boost bilateral economic ties
Updated: 1 hour ago