Part of Paris bridge collapses under weight of 'love locks' left by tourists

A section of the metal mesh on the Pont des Arts footbridge over the Seine in Paris collapsed last night under the weight of the thousands of "love-locks"

Paris

There is such a thing as too much love.

A section of the metal mesh on the Pont des Arts footbridge over the Seine in Paris collapsed last night under the weight of the thousands of "love-locks" attached to the bridge by couples.

The bridge was immediately closed to the public and was under repair today. It is expected to re-open tomorrow.

A five feet long section of metal mesh fell inwards onto the bridge itself. Officials said that the design of the bridge made it impossible for debris to fall onto pleasure boats and barges on the river Seine.

All the same, the incident seems certain to intensify the arguments which have raged for several months on the safety - and alleged ugliness - of the 700,000 padlocks which have covered the Pont des Arts and other Seine footbridges over the last six years.

The practice is believed to have started in Russia but has spread all over the world. It is especially common in Paris, the city of lovers.

Couples from all over the world declare their undying affection for one another by placing their initials on a padlock, fastening it to a bridge and throwing the key into the river.

In Paris, the craze began in 2008 on the Pont des Arts, which spans the 150metres between the Tuileries gardens and the Musee d'Orsay. It has since spread to all footbridges across the Seine.

Two young Americans living in Paris started a petition in March calling for the locks to be removed because they were ugly and could damage the bridges. 

An internet rumour began in April suggesting that the Pont des Arts, festooned with locks weighing an estimated 40 tons, was threatened with collapse.

Paris town hall said that the rumour had begun when a section of the metal grill covering the bridge parapets was replaced as part of routine repairs.

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