On the Avenue de France in the new Paris Rive Gauche development, the benches that line the road are just simple metal bars. The design makes sense as an ensemble, matched with the sculpted tree holders, but who would ever sit on this post and for how long? Most importantly of all for the city planners one imagines, nobody is ever likely to loiter here either, and it is sure that no-one will ever lay down here and sleep!
Similar concerns in the Paris Metro. A quick look through history shows how the ideal seat has evolved. In 1910, stations were equipped with wooden benches, but the latest model, the 'smiley', follows the more recent choice of providing a row of separated plastic chairs. 'More comfortable and easier to clean' boast the RATP, but once more the concept would seem to be rather to ensure that nobody relaxes for too long here. City dwellers today are also apparently more comfortable with a little extra space between themselves and their fellow travellers.
So where is it still possible for somebody to lay down and relax in the city today? Not the Parc de Belleville apparently! Here there is no suggestion that ball games or picnics would be problematic, but rather the dangerous individuals who want to lay on the grass. The best place to relax today would seem to be in your own home, but the city bench was also traditionally the home of those with no roof above their head. Where do they lay down today?