Love-locks return to the bridges of Paris

A year after their mysterious disappearance, the "love-locks" of Paris are back on the city's bridges, more plentiful and vibrant than ever despite lingering suspicions that unromantic officials from City Hall may again swoop with their wire cutters and remove the tokens of couples' love.

On the Pont de l'Archevêché, a bridge which crosses from Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Left Bank of the Seine, thousands of ribbons and padlocks attached to its railings create a brightly-coloured mosaic that can be seen glimmering in the sunlight from the banks of the Seine.

Over the past year, lovers from around the globe have come to add their own testimony of love, engraving their initials on the padlocks – be it a pretty pink bike lock or a heavy duty brick of steel – fastening it to the railings, and tossing the keys into the Seine in a declaration of undying love.

Love-locks started appearing in European cities in the early 2000s, and the original favoured Paris spot was the Pont des Arts, a footbridge crossing the Seine from the Louvre. But a year ago, those love-locks disappeared overnight, without explanation.

In May 2010, Paris Town Hall expressed concern over the growing number of love-locks, saying: "they raise problems for the preservation of our architectural heritage". It's not only the Town Hall that expressed doubts; from time to time a dejected ex-lover has been seen desperately hacking at a padlock with a pair of pliers.

Shortly after this announcement, the bridge was found all but bare following a nocturnal clean-up.

Since the disappearance, lovers have shown their indignation by building-up collections once more, this time on Pont de l'Archevêché.

There has been no word yet from Town Hall, but they may be considering taking their cue from Moscow, which erected metal trees on its Luzhkov Bridge so couples would have a dedicated place to express their love.

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