Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Travel Tips: Paris

I was recently in Paris and yes, I do love sentences like that. I was there for summer camp and traveled with a handful of teenagers as the Adult in Charge. Fortunately we found ourselves there early with a few days to explore. Since I am a Mean Adult in Charge, I refused to let my kids sleep their jetlagged days away and instead walked them to exhaustion. (I regret nothing and would, in fact, do it again.) One day we started at the Arc de Triomphe and walked to Notre Dame. (Basically we walked for hours.) 

Unfortunately, this plan led us to an unexpected stop along the way. We stumbled upon the Pont des Arts. Whether by accident or design, I had completely omitted this from my mental list of things we ought to see. For those of you sitting there thinking how pretentious this post makes me sound, the Pont des Arts is a pedestrian bridge over the Seine. But it's not just a bridge. It's the lock bridge

Couples from all around the world come to this bridge. They write on or engrave a padlock with their names or other nonsense, lock the thing onto the bridge, and throw the key into the Seine. It's romantic or whatever. It's suppose to symbolize the unmoving nature of their love. Unless you have boltcutters. The Pont des Arts isn't the only place in Paris this can be seen--there's another bridge that has become a destination for locks as well, and I spotted one while climbing the Eiffel Tower. There are bridges like this popping up all over the world. 

You can imagine my joy at finding ourselves at the Pont des Arts, surrounded by couples making out, engagement photo shoots, and people looking for the perfect place to lock up their love. Realizing where we were, I sighed deeply. My kids asked me what the deal was, and I explained the history of the bridge. Being teenagers, several of them were enthralled by the idea. I said (out loud, apparently) that I wondered how many of those couples had broken up. Cue the horrified faces.Ah, they're so young, with so much to learn...

We wandered around for a bit, them looking for their own names. I found this awesome lock: 

I feel you, man. 

I also found this heart-warming sight: 
Yes, that is garbage shoved in among the locks. Isn't it beautiful?

I was finally able to pry my kids away from the madness and constant displays of public affection. I had to promise them ice cream. 

So hey, if you find yourself in Paris, avoid the Pont des Arts. There are plenty of bridges--just use a different one. 

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