Paris in an uproar over new open-air urinals
Photo: @ArielWeilT, Twitter

Paris in an uproar over new open-air urinals

PARIS — There’s nothing like the sight of the glorious River Seine… from an open-air urinal.

Dubbed ‘uritrottoirs’ (a mash-up of the French words for urinal and pavement), these bright red, letterbox urinals first debuted in Paris over the summer as an eco-friendly solution to public urination. At first glance they look like chic planters with a floral display on top, but upon closer inspection you’ll notice a layer of straw to eliminate odours and an opening in the front where men can, well, do their business.

Oh, and in case you miss them, each urinal also sits beneath a large sign with a caricature of a man, well, doing his business.

So, what do you think – is the whole thing totally crude or creative?

Parisians, as it turns out, have ‘pissed’ all over the idea, with many local residents writing to the town hall in protest.

The uritrottoir on the Ile Saint-Louis, just steps from the Notre Dame and overlooking tourist boats on the Seine, drew particular ire.

“It’s beside the most beautiful townhouse on the island, the Hotel de Lauzun, where Baudelaire lived,” local shopkeeper Paola Pillizzari told Reuters. She also feared that the urinal, which is located approximately 20 metres from a primary school, would incite “exhibitionism”.

Feminists have also spoken up, saying the urinals are sexist and discriminatory, particularly in light of the #MeToo movement. Two of the contraptions – the one on Ile Saint-Louis and another near Gare de Lyon station – were vandalized with sanitary towels and tampons.

Their efforts paid off – the Ile Saint-Louis urinal has since been removed.

But according to local mayor Ariel Weil, the urinals are necessary, saying: “If we don’t do anything, then men are just going to pee in the streets.”

Despite the backlash, a fifth uritroittoir is in development.

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