Napoleon Bonaparte built the locks of the canal St-Martin in 1802 to bring goods and fresh water from the Canal de l'Ourcq to Paris where it connected to the Seine. 200 years later, locks of a different sort of lock began appearing in Paris in a gesture ironically taken from an Italian movie, where couples placed locks on a Roman bridge and threw the keys into the river. The Pont des Arts, a pedestrian walkway over the Seine dating back to 1801, soon had its side panels covered with locks.
|Locks on the canal St-Martin||Locks on the Pont des Arts|
Parisians were not overly enthused when the locks on the bridge first appeared. They felt that lovers did not need to be chained together. Most of the locks have been attached by visitors to Paris. In 2014, a panel like the one shown above collapsed under its own weight and fell into the Seine. The city began removing the locks on a regular basis but they were replaced by more locks in a matter of days. Sellers of locks began appearing on all of Paris' pedestrian bridges, including those on the canal St-Martin.
The load of the million locks on the Pont des Arts was estimated at 50 tons! Something had to be done. In June, 2015, all of the metal grillwork panels, locks and all were removed and replaced with solid panels depicting street art.
New panels on the Pont des Arts
Nobody is sure what will happen to the lock covered metal panels. Ideas include auctioning them to collectors, or installing them on dry land in a park.
One other issue is the millions of keys at the bottom of the Seine!
April in Paris
April in Paris
Chestnuts in Blossom
Holiday Tables Under the Treeeees
I love that song, especially the Ella Fitzgerald big band version. But when Yip Harburg wrote those lyrics, he must have just been looking for a two sylable month. The verse would describe May or June but they wouldn't fit the cadence. The words certainly don't describe April. It's true that April showers bring May flowers, but why would anyone want to sit through the showers part for a whole month? We were in Paris for an event in early April and decided to stay until the end of May. We had no choice. Umbrellas in hand, we tried to make the best of April's near constant rain. A good time for long bus rides, like the 69 bus all the way to the Bastille from the Ecole Militaire, or the 28 bus from our doorstep to Montmartre. We walked the covered passages in the 9th arrondissement, made an all day visit to the Louvre. Maybe the rain was good for building character and learning to appreciate art at a slow pace. Colder temperatures also led to relaxed, long lunches at restaurants that evoke a country-style inn or auberge. The Brasserie de l'Ile Saint-Louis, with its brusque waiters and heaping platters of choucroute garnie made us forget the cold and rain.
Brasserie de l'Ile Saint-Louis
American Library in Paris
There are also quiet places away from the rainy streets to catch up on reading. The American Library in Paris is in a quiet quarter of the 7th arrondissement, at 10 rue du General Camou. During the closing years of World War 1, after the Americans entered the conflict, American libraries launched the Library War Service to send books to the doughboys. At war's end over one million books had been sent. These books became the core collection of the new library that opened in 1920, founded by a group of American expatriates. American artists and writers of the literary era in Paris served on its board and were significant patrons. It hosts lectures, readings and programs for adults and children. Its reading room carries current American magazines and periodicals. I can read the Sunday New York Times there. It is not sold anywhere in Paris. Non Americans can join too.
Back to the rain. Near the end of April, after dinner, we looked out our window overlooking the dome of the Invalides and saw what makes rain tolerable. A stunning rainbow arching over the dome. My son Brian was quick with his fancy camera and captured it.
They should have mentioned rainbows in the song.