Leslie and Ben padlock in Paris
From the very beginning, we've been fans of Parks and Recreation. We actually love Parks and Rec more than words can describe so we ended up making a lot fan art based on the series. A few months ago, we were planning a trip to Europe and we promised ourselves that we would go see the now famous Leslie and Ben padlock on the Pont des Arts. If you remember, in the show's 100th episode, Leslie and Ben go on a trip to Paris and seal their love by writing their names on a padlock on the renowned bridge and throwing away the key in the Seine River.
As corny as it sounds, there was no way we'd go to Paris without seeing it. It was a priority! Unfortunately, on a sad day of February, we learned the padlock had been stolen by some very bright individual who had literally cut out the fence it was attached to, taken the padlock, and ruined the whole Leslie and Ben shrine experience for all the fans! This unfortunate event put us on a mission. We had to replace this lock. On March 24th, after a long 9-hour plane trip we arrived in Paris, completely exhausted yet determined to right this terrible wrong and went on a hunt for a replacement padlock. It was easier said than done... It was already late and all the stores in Le Marais were closing their doors right in front of us so we reluctantly decided to call it a day and go for a glass of wine instead. We only had two days in Paris and naturally, we got the coldest and rainiest weather we could ever wish for. The next day we went through store after store, walking for what seemed like hours in the rain, trying to find a padlock, not just any padlock but the one used in the show. Miraculously, we ended up on the lower level of a hardware store and finally found the Holy Grail. It was right there in front of us, the very same model of padlock from the "Second Chunce" episode.
The moment we stepped foot on the Pont des Arts we realized that finding the spot where the original padlock was hung wouldn't be an easy task. The place is literally overloaded by thousands of love locks and dozens more are added by the minute. After pacing the bridge back and forth, something hit us. Upon analyzing several pictures from the "Leslie and Ben in Paris" episode as well as many pictures of people who were there before us, it became clear that the fence and immediate surroundings were completely different and we were in the wrong spot. Leslie and Ben did not actually hang their lock on the Pont des Arts but on the neighboring bridge, the Pont Neuf. Figuring this little riddle made the rest of our mission a bit easier. We must have looked crazy looking for a damaged fence where a padlock may or may not have been but we made it. We located the cut out fence and put the new lock along with one of our Leslie and Ben keychains right there next to it. We knew that nothing could replace the real thing but still felt it was important for the fans and everyone who loves Parks and Rec to keep the idea behind the padlock alive. We can only hope this will help others find the original spot. As you can see in our pictures, someone called Matt was obviously thinking likewise.
If you've been following us for a while, you probably know that one of our favorite Parks and Recreation people is the Twitter queen herself, Retta. And if you've been following her then you know her history with Joe Manganiello, aka True Blood's Alcide. Retta's birthday was on April 12th and we really wanted to make her smile on her special day so we came up with the idea of putting Donna and her perfect match Alcide on the exact same padlock as the Leslie and Ben one right next to them. We wrote Donna and Alcide on one side and Retta & Joe on the other. Now both Donna & Alcide and Leslie & Ben padlocks are hanging on the Pont Neuf in Paris.