The thousands of locks that cling like barnacles to the Pont des Arts in Paris have become a symbol of danger, rather than love, after a chunk of fencing fell off under their weight.
The fencing tumbled late Sunday on the pedestrian bridge, which crosses the Seine. Thousands of couples have latched padlocks to the bridge and thrown their keys into the river as symbols of lasting love, resulting in what some decry as an eyesore. The locks are periodically removed by the city, but spring up ever faster.
Deputy mayor Bruno Julliard said the city was already soliciting suggestions from artists on what to do to the locks when the fencing collapsed. Officials are hoping to persuade visiting lovers to show their undying affection in less disruptive ways.
Julliard told BFM television on Monday possible alternatives included ribbons and -- if lovers insist upon the padlocks -- a dedicated sculpture.
"Then there were some radically different ideas. Why not use new technology so that couples could write each other messages that could be projected somewhere in Paris?" he said.
No one was hurt when the approximately two-meter (6.5 feet) stretch of fencing came down on the Pont des Arts. But Julliard said there are real safety concerns, as the Seine is heavily traveled by tour boats and barges.
Locks also increasingly adorn a bridge near Notre Dame Cathedral and some have even cropped up on the Eiffel Tower.
"We don't lack for ideas, but now it's rather urgent for reasons of aesthetics and security. We have to find an alternative to these padlocks of love," Julliard said.