'Love locks' on the block in Paris charity auction

Paris (AFP) - Amorous couples, here's your chance to own a piece of the world's most romantic city: Paris is selling off the "love locks" that lovebirds attached to the city's bridges before officials cracked down on the practice.

For years tourists inscribed their initials on the locks and hooked them to the railings of bridges, most famously the Pont des Arts near the Louvre, throwing the key into the Seine to express their undying devotion.

But the tradition turned into a menace -- one section of the Pont des Arts collapsed under the weight of thousands of locks -- as well as an eyesore for many residents.

The city began removing the locks in 2015 and replaced the metal railings on the Pont des Arts with acrylic glass panels to ward off the public displays of affection.

But on May 13, the Credit Municipal de Paris will sell 150 bunches of the locks mounted on displays of wood or recycled paving stones, or hanging from acrylic stands.

The artworks are expected to go for 150 to 200 euros each ($165-$220).

Fifteen sections of the original Pont des Arts railings mounted on wood will also be auctioned, estimated to fetch 5,000 to 10,000 euros depending on length, with the longest stretching 3.2 metres (about 11 feet).

Proceeds will go to three associations helping to accomodate the influx of migrants into the city: Solipam, the Salvation Army and Emmaus Solidarite.

"We selected the locks that seemed the most beautiful, the ones that were colourful, full of fantasy," said Mathilde Belcour-Cordelier, the auctioneer who is overseeing the sale.

"It's a way to have a small souvenir of Paris."

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