Saturday, November 24, 2012
The Pont de l’Archevêché bridge over the Seine had thousands of small padlocks, locked onto the iron grating. They sparkled, golden and silver in the sun like so many jewels. Known as Love Locks, the trend took off more than three years ago, thousands of padlocks have been locked to the bridge by lovers looking to symbolize their endless passion. A Paris municipal authority announced that the locks were becoming an eyesore. He further added that the practice "posed the question of preserving heritage, and that in time the padlocks would have to be removed". In May of 2010 all but a handful of the padlocks vanished overnight from the bridge. All eyes turned to the Mayor's office, but he denied authorizing the removal. Some suggested the locks were removed during the night to avoid negative publicity, others speculated that it was the work of scrap metal thieves. But as soon as they were removed, shiny new locks started to reappear. I wasn't about to try and sketch thousands of padlocks, but I felt I had to sketch Notre Dame.
I escaped the crowd on the bridge by walking down the stone steps to the Quai. I set up my artist stool against a tall tree and started to sketch. There was an artist doing an oil painting less than fifty yards away. Restaurant barges dock here and tourists were filing in for lunch. It was rather quiet and peaceful down on the Quai whereas the bridges and the island Notre Dame sat on were a constant mob scene. A group of tourists gathered at the water taxi stop. The trees were turning orange with the first fall chills. I seldom sketch outside in Orlando since is is always so darn hot. Thus it was a real pleasure to relax in the shade to sketch hundreds of years of Gothic architectural history.
Terry and I did go inside Notre Dame and the Rose windows were gorgeous. The shear scale of the space is humbling. An angry french woman shouted at the tourists in the square in front of the cathedral. In the evening, roller bladers, musicians and performers of all kinds converge on the square to seek tips from tourists. The Île de la Cité on which Notre Dame was built is the true heart and center of Paris.