Paris ‘eco-friendly’ public urinal causing controversy

The red urinals are designed to look rather like plant pots, but their public locations have proved controversial

A new public “eco-friendly” urinal in Paris is causing controversy after residents have complained about its placement next to a 17th century hotel, in the historic area of Ȋle Saint-Louis.

The mayor of the 4th arrondissement has now stated that the urinal will be moved early next month.

The urinal, which appeared in late July, is one of four “eco-friendly, Uritrottoir ('urinal' + 'pavement')” devices to have been installed across Paris in recent months.

Designed in Nantes, they are bright red, and work by absorbing liquid with a mixture of straw and wood chips - in the same way as a composting toilet. The whole thing is then covered with “garden-like” vegetation in a bid to make it look more like a flower pot than a toilet.

The urinals are then signposted with a white label reading “Uritroittoir”.

However, this location in particular has attracted negative comments from locals, with a petition against it now being circulated.

Its public site close to the historic, 17th century Hotel de Lutèce, has proved especially controversial, prompting tourists to take humorous photos.

Speaking to news source BFMTV, one local complained: “It allows a man to go to the bathroom in front of everyone. Also, it is likely to give off bad odours. It sends out a really bad image of Paris.”

Another resident added: “I like to walk a lot round here, so these Uritroittoirs - they are in rather poor taste. Nature calls, I know, but still.”

One male tourist said: “For men it’s good, but when there are people around, it’s awkward. I personally would not use it.”

Laurence Parisot, former president of employee group le MEDEF, notably tweeted her displeasure at the urinal’s appearance. She sarcastically questioned the nature of this “very elegant, new Parisian stupidity”, and posted a photo highlighting the urinal’s very public location.

The Paris Mairie had seen the new public urinals as a means to help clean up the city, but Ariel Weil, mayor of the 4th arrondissement has conceded to the unpopularity of their current locations.

He said: “We will move these urinals. We can find a better spot for them. They will be moved by a few meters [to a less-public area]. We are in touch with residents.”

The 4th arrondissement council is set to meet with the Paris Mairie at the beginning of September to find a more suitable, less public location.

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