pedestrian footbridge which we used to cross the Seine to the Right Bank from our sixth floor walk-up on the Left Bank. Today thousands of padlocks are clamped to the wire mesh between the guard rails.
Some are tiny, the size of my thumb; others as large as a child's fist. Most are inscribed. "Pierre et Jeannette, ensemble pour les siecles." "Marie et Alain, toujours."
As a symbol of fidelity, Tib and I agreed, it was a lot more meaningful than names scrawled on a wall. Actually, we learned, the padlocks had been the center of a typically French controversy. Long-term commitment seemingly violated a tradition which some considered uniquely Parisian, the freedom to love each other only "for now."
And in a classically French response, the city at one point ordered the padlocks removed, sidestepping the quarrel by citing visual pollution. Several thousand were in fact destroyed. Almost immediately they began appearing again until today the padlocks are an accepted part of the Parisian scene.