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Locals denounce ‘dangerous’ state of historic Paris bridge

There are calls for local authorities to invest in the Pont des Arts amid claims that the Unesco heritage site is ‘not safe’ for pedestrians

The bridge used to be covered in padlocks put there by couples as a symbol of their love Pic: bensliman hassan / Shutterstock

Parisians are calling attention to damage and degradation on the Pont des Arts bridge in the 6th arrondissement, with some sharing images online of what they say are the worst issues.

The pedestrian bridge was constructed between 1802-1804 with wooden decking and a metal frame. It was the first metal bridge to be built in Paris, connecting the Louvre museum on one side of the Seine river with the Mazarine Library on the other.

But now images shared on Twitter show the wooden walkway covered in wooden patches or with holes where beams have been broken or worn away, using the hashtag #SaccageParis (#VandalisingParis).

Some of the beams are coming loose from their holdings and wobble as pedestrians walk over them.

One passer-by told BFMTV that the bridge was “dangerous and not very secure. We could trip up,” she said.

Another said: “The Pont des Arts is especially slippery when it’s raining. It’s not very safe.”

Others said it was a shame that the wooden patches covering particularly dangerous spots were installed in a light-coloured wood, making them stand out from the rest of the walkway. 

“It’s a pity that they can’t find the money for historical monuments like this one,” one said.

Repair works planned 

The Pont des Arts is classed as an official historical monument in France and is also a Unesco heritage site, drawing questions as to why the mairie and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo have not prioritised the maintenance of the bridge. 

Didier Rykner, founder of online magazine La Tribune de l’art, told BFMTV: “It reflects what is going on in Paris at the moment. Heritage is disappearing bit by bit; there are holes in the road. It’s a real catastrophe.”

Mayor of the 6th arrondissement Jean-Pierre Lecoq has said that current repairs to the bridge are temporary and that more extensive work is planned for 2022 or 2023.

This would not be the first time that the bridge has undergone a renovation. 

Previously the Pont des Arts was a popular spot for couples, who would attach padlocks with their names on to the metal barriers running along the bridge as a symbol of their love.

After thousands of these locks had been attached – adding considerable weight to the historic structure – the town hall closed the bridge for one week to replace the metal barriers and install glass panels that make it impossible for new locks to be attached.

The old padlocks were sold at auction, raising €250,000 for refugees.

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