Pont des Arts is the only pedestrian bridge in the centre of Paris and a hotspot for couples, who used to attach a padlock to the railing and throw the key into the river below. It is also the site of art exhibitions frequented by painters, artists and photographers, who are drawn to the unique viewpoint.
The bridge links the Institute de France and the central square of the Palais de Louvre. Between 1802 and 1804, a nine-arch metallic bridge for pedestrians was constructed at the location of the present-day Pont des Arts: this was the first metal bridge in Paris. This innovation was brought by Napoleon I, following a design of English manufacture. The engineers’ idea was to construct a bridge that would resemble a suspended garden, with trees, banks of flowers, and benches. Because of the damage caused by bombings during the two World Wars, as well as by numerous collisions with boats, the bridge was closed in 1977 and in 1979 it suffered a 60-metre collapse after a barge rammed into it. The present bridge was built between 1981 and 1984, according to the plans of Louis Arretche, who had decided to reduce the number of arches from nine to seven, preserving the look of the old bridge while allowing more boats to pass.
In May 2010 Paris Town Hall expressed concern over the growing number of love locks on the Pont des Arts. Love locks disappeared suddenly in 2010, but the Administration denied responsibility. Love locks immediately began appearing on the Pont de l’Archevêché.