SHARE
COPY LINK

PARIS

Paris’s eco-friendly urinals spark sniggers and seething

In the heart of Paris, a radical experiment in urine management is taking place: new eco-friendly urinals which are prompting titters from some and furious complaints from others.

Paris's eco-friendly urinals spark sniggers and seething
A man stands at a "uritrottoir" public urinal on August 13, 2018, on the Saint-Louis island in Paris, as a "bateau mouche" tourist barge cruises past. Photo: AFP
In a city where men are regularly seen urinating on the street with wanton abandon, some have welcomed the arrival of the “uritrottoirs” (pavement urinals) as an innovation that might help rid the French capital of unpleasant sights and smells.
 
But some residents have complained that the bright red boxes are a blight on the picturesque streets of the city.
   
Others say there is something more than a little distasteful about encouraging men to urinate right on the street, even if it's into a box.
   
“It's a little weird… but if you need to go it's better than going on the street,” admitted Jonathan, a tourist from New York.
 
 
“It's a little bit in the open, some people might be uncomfortable,” he said as several boats packed with tourists floated past along the Seine.
 
Topped with plants, these dry, organic urinals do not use water but are filled with straw which can be easily composted, according to Faltazi, the small French company behind them.
   
Three of the urinals were quietly installed around Paris under a pilot scheme in the spring.
   
But the more recent arrival of one of the boxes on the exclusive Ile Saint-Louis, not far from Notre-Dame cathedral, has met with a more robust response. 
 
'Outraged'
 
Local resident Francoise said she was “outraged” by its presence, describing it as “really not very attractive”. 
   
“I like it, but putting it here is a bad idea,” said Gregory, a 43-year-old photographer who has lived on the island for the past three years. 
   
“They should put them right by the waterside,” he complained.
   
But the urinals must be reachable by vehicle so that they can be emptied and to change the straw once every three weeks. 
   
Paris City Hall said it had installed them “at the request of residents”, adding the project was still in a trial phase. 
 
“We are totally ready to discuss the location,” said Evelyne Zarka, a senior official at the local town hall in the fourth arrondissement, which is home to Ile Saint-Louis.
 
The once pretty plants which topped the uritrottoir outside the Gare de Lyon, a major rail train station, appear lifeless, their appearance not helped by the cigarette butts and plastic bottles on top.
 
Other critics charge that the uritrottoir near the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret is an unnecessary addition, just a few paces from one of the city's free-to-use public toilets.
 
Along with these 400 automatic facilities and pop-up urinals in nightlife hotspots, Paris has experimented with other innovative means of stopping the scourge of public urination.
   
One wall near the Gare du Nord station has been lined with mirrors intended to inspire modesty in men tempted to relieve themselves against it.
 
Laurent Lebot, one of the two designers behind Faltazi, acknowledged that the prominent location of some of the uritrottoirs was grating for some residents.
   
As for the lack of privacy, he said that police didn't want them to provide too much space to hide, “to avoid problems with drugs and sex that can happen with enclosed urinals”.
   
But the biggest criticism so far is that the uritrottoirs only cater to men. 
   
“For reasons of privacy, women need to be in a cabin, so the aim is to free up existing toilets for them,” the company says. 
   
 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TRAVEL NEWS

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro

SHOW COMMENTS