Ah but in Saint-Étienne, benches are not just for sitting on. The Bancs d’Essai (Test Benches) scheme offers more curious passers-by the chance to take part in a life-size test. They – you – can try out the latest in urban furniture created by artists and designers from all over the world.

Would you like to take some time out while you're in the city centre, but without cutting yourself off from the world? The Kyoto bench on Place Jean Jaurès is what you need: a place where you can be alone, whilst remaining open to the city.

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