On a walk along the famous Pont des Arts bridge, I stumbled across a tour party and listened with interest to the guide's stories about the famous 'Love Padlocks' (pictured above). Apparently the Love Locks started to appear in 2008 as a result of the famous scene in the last episode of Sex and the City, where Carrie and Big kiss on this bridge. Romantics from all over the world came to share a kiss on the bridge, leaving a mark of their eternal love by writing their names on a padlock and fastening it to the bridge, then throwing away the key into the Seine. The guide joked that if you look close enough you'll see three names on some padlocks, as the French are fond of the Menage a trois. He also said that local boys tend to buy combination padlocks if their love is insincere.
The trend has become so popular that Pont des Arts is now overflowing with padlocks, and the trend has extended to other bridges across the city.
Locals have started a protest to get them removed, and the government is taking steps towards this (the day I was on the bridge a panel had already been taken away). They believe the padlocks are ruining beautiful historical structures as the weight of the padlocks is damaging the bridge, as well as altering it visually. Environmentalists have also been leading protests, as the keys being thrown into the Seine are polluting the water. I like the quirky trend, but I can understand why the locals want to preserve the beauty of their city. I love the fact some couples have now resorted to clipping their padlocks onto the lamp posts...
I love walking around the St Germaine part of Paris - this is where a lot of famous artists and literary types used to hang out back in the day, and I think it has a really magical atmosphere. As soon as I stepped inside Jardin de Luxembourg I felt the same sense of calm I experienced on my last visit. I enjoyed watching children sailing old fashioned boats on the pond - there's a sense of stepping back in time in this park and this image only added to that. The photo I captured of the boats is one of my favourites from this trip.
What added to the whole scene was when a gang of young men arrived, and sat at the edge of the fountain, dressed in black and purple studded clothes, with spiked or dreadlock hair. They looked like futuristic rebels from a dystopian film and had quite an intimidating air about them. They kept laughing amongst themselves as if they knew a secret about the fountain none of us ignorant tourists had any clue about. I was too scared to take a photograph of them! Wish I hadn't been such a chicken now.
A peaceful moment was sitting in Park Jean XIII, which overlooks the back section of Notre Dame. You can see so much gothic detail on the building from this angle, that it's a nice place to sit. A local Parisian man sat down beside me and chatted for a while, telling me that the Illes St Louis part of Paris has become so expensive only rich Americans and Italians can afford to buy apartments there. He told me that the leaves of the trees in this park are magic, and that if you leave them in water for 6 months and then pour it into your plants they bloom within days.
What made this trip, was the quirky hotel I stayed in, Hotel Notre Dame. My friend Rebecca had blogged about it after her stay there last year and I loved the unique/arty style of the rooms. The real selling point was the prospect of having a room overlooking Notre Dame and the Seine, which I got. Nothing quite beats the sound of the bells of Notre Dame ringing in the early morning.
Paris, I look forward to a part 3 sometime.