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City of romance rejects lovers' locks

Thousands of "love locks" padlocked on to a footbridge over the Seine have mysteriously disappeared, leading disappointed couples to accuse officials from the Paris Town Hall of being killjoys.

Just a few days ago, the Pont des Arts footbridge over the Seine was still covered with a swarm of "love locks". Ranging from tiny suitcase fasteners to heavy-duty brass padlocks, around 2,000 locks of all colours and sizes hung from the wire mesh on each side of the bridge. The locks, inscribed with the names or initials of starry-eyed lovers from all over the world, were supposed to symbolise everlasting, unbreakable love. Unfortunately, not even Cupid can resist a pair of heavy-duty wire-cutters. Over the last few days, all but the sturdiest padlocks have mysteriously disappeared from the bridge.

Suspicion has fallen on the Town Hall, which had threatened last week to remove the padlocks, but promised to first devise an alternative, such as the metal "trees" erected for love locks in Moscow.

However, the Town Hall has denied all involvement, saying it "didn't make the decision to remove the padlocks". Police said that they were equally surprised. Some Parisians have suggested an alternative theory: the jealous act of a bitter singleton finally fed up with living in heart of the city of romance.