Paris Is Selling Old Love Locks to Raise Money For Refugees

Putting clipped locks to good use

love locks
Love Locks on the Pont de l'Archevêché bridge in 2012. JD via Flickr

For some, clipping a padlock to a bridge may be a romantic gesture of love, but for years Parisian authorities have been frustrated by the tons of extra metal weighing down their city’s bridges. By the time Parisian officials threw their hands up and clipped every love-inspired padlock off of its iconic bridges in 2015, the seemingly innocent tributes were causing serious structural problems. Though each padlock might have been small, all in all, they amounted to about 72 tons weighing down the Pont des Arts and Pont de l'Archevêché bridges, a major load that the historic structures were never meant to bear, Oliver Gee reports for The Local

Though the practice is now banned and Paris' bridges have been equipped with plexiglass coverings to prevent new locks being added, officials have spent the last year-and-a-half puzzling over what to do with all those confiscated locks. Up until now, the clipped locks have sat in storage, gathering dust. But recently, Parisian officials announced that they will start selling about 11 tons of these locks to the public in an effort to raise funds to support refugees, Aamna Mohdin reports for Quartz.

"Members of the public can buy five or ten locks, or even clusters of them, all at an affordable price," Paris’ environment chief Bruno Julliard told reporters last week, Gee reports. "All of the proceeds will be given to to those who work in support and in solidarity of the refugees in Paris."

While the locks have been clipped and are little more than souvenirs, Julliard is betting the allure of owning a piece of Paris’ cultural history will draw plenty of buyers. Beyond the fact that the sale will likely take place in early 2017, there are few details—it’s not clear how the funds will be distributed, whether the sale will take place in person or by online auction, how much the locks will cost, or whether people who put up their own lock in the past will be able to dig through the heap to find their specific one, Lilit Marcus reports for Condé Nast Traveler

Right now, Julliard's hoping that selling the locks will help raise about $107,000 to support the city’s refugees, Mohdin reports. Any remaining locks will be melted down and sold for scrap.

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