Oui oui: Why Paris needs paint to stop the street pee-ers

Oliver Gee
Oliver Gee - [email protected]
Oui oui: Why Paris needs paint to stop the street pee-ers

One of the most notorious bad habits of Parisians (drunk men, to be more precise) is under the microscope once again and some say the solution lies in pee-repellent paint.


Walking through Paris on a Friday night can often feel like a stroll through a town in the Middle Ages. 
Only the most nimble can get through the steams of urine - sometimes flowing streams if your timing is bad.
And you'll undoubtedly stumble upon a drunkard - normally male if we're honest - relieving themselves somewhere that's far too public for anyone's liking.
Doorways, the steps down to the Metro, behind trees, between parked cars, and even on Velib bicycle seats.
In fact, the French even have a name for the act of public urination - "wild peeing" (pipi sauvage).
And town officials know it's a problem - they announced plans last week to add another 50 public urinals to the streets, some of which will be open 24 hours a day. 
And they do have the power to fine people €35, which is almost half the fine for those caught littering or not cleaning up after their dog, but it doesn't seem to be scaring drunk locals into holding it in. 
But perhaps the real answer isn't to bring in extra options or increase fines - but rather to make people think twice about the consequences of a "wild pee".
And one community-focused Parisian insists special pee-repellent paint is the answer
Xavier Delaporte, 31, has taken advantage of the Paris City Hall's innovative participative budget scheme by suggesting officials shell out on extremely hydrophobic paint for walls around the city.
The special paint means that the urine will bounce directly back onto the legs and feet of the public pee-er, soaking their trousers.
If you're confused about how it works, check out the promotional video from the Germany project (below), a clip that has had over five million views on YouTube.

Based on the success of the idea in Hamburg, Delaporte wrote a strongly-worded appeal to Paris budget chiefs tell them the streets, facades, and footpaths "are in a disastrous state", pointing especially to the Boulevard Ney in the 18th arondissement.
"It's really hard to live there because it's so gross," he told The Local. 
He says the final straw was when he was with his two-year-old daughter and came across a drunken man with his genitals out in the early afternoon. 
What's more, he says the foul stench has become so bad that it's fast becoming a health issue. 
And it's a similar story over by Canal St Martin in the 10th arrondissement, where residents have long said the area resembles a pissoir.
"The situation now is serious. We have to walk through broken bottles, vomit, rubbish and urine every morning," 
"A nearby school caretaker cannot let pupils in the premises on a Monday morning until he has washed away all the urine," a member of the Collectif du Canal Saint Martin told The Local last summer.
A few of the residents have even been forced to put up notices reading: "This door is the entrance to our building. Be nice and go and urinate elsewhere."
But Delaporte's proposed project could change all this. He suggests the paint is applied to walls in the 18th and then spread along the Canal Saint-Martin, coming with a total cost of around €100,000, a figure based on his research of the German paints.
And the idea has so far proved popular among those on the "budget participatif" site, which is a Paris initiative inviting citizens to create project ideas aimed at improving the city.
"A lot of people are really excited, I think especially because it's not repressive, it's a fun and unexpected way to change people's behaviour," Delaporte says. 
While it may sound like an unusual approach to a common problem, it seems the town officials are listening. They've said they're experimenting with pee deterrents in areas including in the tenth and third arrondissements, reported 20 Minutes, both popular areas for bar-goers.
But innovative suggestions have fallen by the wayside. A popular call last year for Paris to implement outdoor urinals for women appears to be down the drain.
But there is a chance the Town Hall will take the anti-pee paint idea seriously. They've already said they'll meet with Delaporte for a start, and they've been pushing hard in recent months to clean up Paris. Just last week officials announced a raft of measures in the hope of making Paris a "model" of cleanliness. 
Now if they can only sort out the cigarette butt problem...
How Paris plans to become a 'model' of cleanliness - really


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