Locks on the Pont des Arts by davideoliva via Flickr Creative Commons
Last spring, my husband and I were engaged in Paris. To mark the occasion, we secured a lock to the Pont des Arts and threw the keys into the river – a lovers’ tradition signifying the love is immoveable, permanent, secure. When we returned to Paris for our honeymoon this summer, we tried to find our lock. Sadly, we discovered our symbol was not as permanent as we might have hoped: the entire panel of the bridge on which we’d placed it had been removed and replaced. Our keys were still on the bottom of the Seine, but our lock was gone.
This only got us down for a few moments. We were in Paris, after all, and newly married. The Paris plages were in full swing, and we perked ourselves up with a cold beer and a game of Pétanque along the river.
The Batobus by aroberts via Flickr Creative Commons
As it got hotter and hotter on that summer day, we decided we’d rather be on the water than beside it, so we boarded the Batobus, a hop-on, hop-off tourist water taxi that stops at all the major sights. We positioned ourselves right up front, just behind the captain, to make the most of the delicious breeze. We cruised along past the Eiffel Tower, past the Musée d’Orsay and Notre Dame. I waxed poetic about how wonderful this all was – the breeze, the river, the view. As we approached the Pont des Arts, my husband suddenly looked very concerned. He grabbed tight to the rail and said, in a low voice, very seriously, “We’re not going to make it.” Confident we could not possibly be in any danger on such a straight path on a perfectly calm river, I shrugged this off. “I’m sure the captain knows what he’s doing,” I said.
But sure enough, that boat plowed right into the arch of the bridge, sending tourists toppling from their seats, crumpling a passenger ramp, and giving me a good knock against the rails. (Note to self: Listen to your husband!) As we putt-putted along to the next stop so we and the other bumped and bruised passengers could disembark, some people cried, some grumbled, and some were downright belligerent. We, though, couldn’t help but chuckle. That bridge – our bridge, as we’d come to think of it – might no longer hold our lock, but it still played a leading role in our trip.
Ferris Wheel at the Jardin des Tuilleries by draket via Flickr Creative Commons
We recovered from our adventure on the waterways of Paris with a nice glass of cold rosé and a ride on the Ferris wheel at the summer fair in the Jardin de Tuilleries, a very civilized way to calm our nerves. I do love Paris in the springtime – but after this adventure, Paris in the summer? Ouch, I’m not so sure.