Paris Now Has Public ‘Open-Air’ Urinals, and Many Locals Aren’t Happy

Aug 14, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

On your next trip to Paris, in addition to seeing familiar sites like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, you might see a few giant, red flower pots being used as urinals.

If you’re grossed out by that, you’re not alone. Parisians are questioning city officials’ attempts to combat public urination with the installation of “open-air” urinals or “uritrottoirs” in and around the city’s historic neighborhoods. 

In Paris officials’ latest efforts to alleviate the smells, damage, and public indecency that come along with public urination, the uritrottoirs are anything but subtle.

One uritrottoir that overlooks the Seine River near the Notre Dame Cathedral is causing the most controversy among residents, and they are planning a petition to have it removed.

“I think installing a urinal in the streets of Paris for those who don’t respect their surroundings is a good idea, but in my opinion, this model is not attractive at all, and where it’s been set up is not appropriate at all,” one resident told CNN.

Another Paris resident who owns an art gallery nearby one of the stations expressed his distaste to Reuters.

“We’re told we have to accept this, but this is absolutely unacceptable. It’s destroying the legacy of the island. Can’t people behave?” the man said.

On the other hand, city officials claim these eco-friendly toilets are for the better good of the city, especially in areas where public urination is a major issue. There are four currently in place, and a fifth one is in the works.

“The uritrottoir, an intelligent pissotiere, makes it possible to compost and grow flowers,” officials said in a statement, adding that a filtration system using straw will help limit unpleasant odors. “Straw and urine are then collected and composted, allowing the recovery of naturally occurring nitrogen and phosphate in large amounts in the urine. Ultimately, this device allows the urine to return to fertilize the plants.”

Despite the backlash from residents, public urination stations are nothing new and are quite common in several European cities. Pissoirs, or public urinals, in Paris have been around since the 1800s and only began to phase out around the 1960s. Amsterdam and Brussels have also had public urinals for years and have faced similar concerns from residents when the stations are located near historic sights, like the St. Catherine Church in Belgium.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.