Published by Cedric Benetti
on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 10/13/2009 07:00:00 PM.
Welcome to the Paris of 1876. We are in the gardens of the Bourse, and are looking at a 'vespasienne', a public urinal, a 'Toilet of Paris' in the historic sense.
Since 1961, these stench-makers have gradually disapeared from the Paris streetscape, after having been present since 1834. Reasons for the dismanteling are numerous: the stench, the fact that women couldn't manage to use them, and also more importantly the fact that they were becoming gay meeting places very fast.
Their name is derived from the Roman emperor Vespasian, who at one point started putting up a tax on urine collecting for the teinturiers (professional dyers, who obviously used urine for dying clothes...what a delicious idea). After being laughed at for this measure, he claimed "pecunia non olet", "money doesn't smell". Too bad he never knew the devices bearing his name in the future were anything else but scentless.
Oh, talking about scentless, these public toilets above got installed in the 1870s and claimed to be scentless. You also had to pay five cents for using them...
I am Cedric, discoverer of things that would go unnoticed in the streets of Paris, historic haven of fashionistas and city of lights ('lights' as in 'enlightenment', not street lights).
But seriously: I'm an expat from Luxembourg (the country, not the garden), living in the center of Paris (hence 'Paris 2nd arrondissement'), and currenlty studying architectural history...
places to go and weird stories to know about the city of lights... Improve your brain's useless knowledge parts, impress your neighbors, raise the roof, and anoy your friends with these funny facts and places