There’s something very inviting about the humble bench. All over the world, in all kinds of settings – sometimes crowded, sometimes lonely – they call out to us to sit for a while, rest, and enjoy the view. Whether that view is out over the ocean, across a green field, or even onto a simple suburban footpath, benches make for the perfect place to break up a peaceful stroll, morning, noon or evening.
How many times have you sighed with relief as you park your behind on a conveniently placed bench? And if the bench is somewhere secluded, where we can enjoy a bit of quiet solitude at the same time, even better. After all, with so many of us living in crowded cities, finding somewhere to sit down alone and relax can be a real luxury.
The essential elements of the public bench are pretty much the same: legs and a seat. But within this basic blueprint, there’s still room for creativity. Curling wrought iron, intricately carved wood and fancy modern designs are just some of the aesthetic tweaks that can be added to these open-air chairs.
Often, we’re just happy to have a simple seat to sit in and focus our gaze on whatever nook of the world might be in front of us. And to celebrate this idea, here’s a selection of lonely but lovely benches from around the world, offering a variety of vistas to enjoy and take in – even if it's only through photographs.
We don't think you're likely to find a much lonelier bench than this one. And you’d need to be well wrapped up to enjoy it, preferably with a cup of warm cocoa in hand. Still, the stunning mountain vista is sublime, and the isolated looking location means you probably wouldn’t have to share your chair – or your cocoa – with anyone else.
Getting out of bed in winter can be difficult, especially if you have to leave your warm snug cocoon and venture out into the cold. Then again, if you had this sunrise as an incentive, perhaps it wouldn’t be so hard to motivate yourself – especially if the cold weather meant you had it all to yourself. The stunning pink and orange sky is reflected in the water beneath it, creating a pretty magnificent setting to start your day.
This bench in Basse-Normandie, France offers a ringside seat at one of nature’s most beautiful shows: a gathering storm. At least, it did while photographer Louis-Thibaud Chambon was there. The trouble is, with a stunning vista like this, you’re likely to sit and admire the view long after you should have been running for cover!
The combination of blue sky and bright green grass in this picture makes us think of lazy days in the park. And the bench’s perfect placement under a shady tree certainly makes it an ideal place to while away a few quiet hours daydreaming, reading a good book, or maybe even grabbing a quick nap. Sometimes a lonely location can be a real plus. We’re feeling relaxed and sleepy just thinking about it.
Here’s another view of some dramatic clouds, this time hovering above the coast of Normandy. This particularly lonely looking bench offers you a place to rest in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mont Saint-Michel, a rocky island that’s home to several ancient forts and a famous monastery.
Also located in Normandy, his lonely bench has an antiquated feel about it. Perhaps it’s the simple design, which we could easily imagine gracing an ancient Greek or Roman garden. The surrounding area looks a little spooky, though. So, although it may be a great place to watch the sun set, you might not want to linger here alone for much longer afterwards.
This is probably a bench design at its most basic: three pre-built blocks forming the legs and seat. But with an outlook this tranquil, who cares what you’re sitting on? This would be a great spot to sit and meditate by yourself, listening to the sounds of rustling leaves and running water. Or perhaps it’s just somewhere to rest awhile after a hike through the countryside of Provence, France, where this photograph was taken.
Again, we have a bench strategically placed for enjoying an ocean view. Facing the sea seems to be a favorite position for benches, and it’s not hard to understand why. As well as offering a dose of fresh salty air, it makes for a great place to pass the time watching the waves roll in and the colors change with the sky.
This solitary green bench in Poitou-Charentes, France also looks seaward. And on top of the picturesque view provided, it seems like a good place to get some sun and enjoy a bit of tranquil alone time. To us, it also looks like an ideal place to rest while walking along the coastline.
This is a classic park bench located in the Parc de l'Ile Saint Germain, which is on an island in the Seine River in Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris, France. The amazing purple blooms of the tree surrounding this seat make it a particularly colorful place to sit and, perhaps, feel like you’ve wandered away from the real world into a painting by Monet.
Here’s yet another water view. This time we’re looking out to sea from a solitary bench in St. Andrews, Scotland. But don’t let those ominous looking clouds worry you too much; St. Andrews is actually one of the driest parts of Scotland, so maybe there’s a good chance of them just blowing over. For now, though, they add some real atmosphere to the ocean view.
And here’s one more atmospheric Scottish view, this time looking out over Loch Tay in the central highlands. People have been living here since the Iron Age, so perhaps this would be a good place to sit and daydream undisturbed, thinking about what life must have been like in that distant period.
The whiteness of this snowy scene is so uniform that it looks like it could be an intricate marble sculpture. In actual fact, the photograph was taken after a snowstorm in Montreal, Canada. Montreal is usually covered in snow from November until late March, so if icy scenes like this appeal to you, it could be the perfect place to visit. Also, as the absence of any tracks in the snow suggests, you might find a pretty scene like this all to yourself.
In contrast to most of the benches in this series, this one is in a distinctly urban setting – although it’s still definitely lonely. It is, in fact, in Whitehall, London, and it’s probably only because of the time of day that it’s so quiet. Sadly, this bench is damaged and obviously not a comfortable place to sit – at least when the photograph was taken. The dimly lit, long exposure shot also gives the bench a slightly creepy feel. But we love the pattern made by the bench’s shadow on the pavement!
This bench doesn't just appear lonely; it looks a bit forlorn as well. Perhaps it’s the snow piled on it – which, considering its location in Helsinki, Finland, probably isn't that unusual. It could also be the solemn looking stone wall behind it, which looks like something you might find in a creepy old graveyard. The lattice back is a nice touch though.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our tour of lonely benches in interesting places from your own, hopefully comfortable, seat at home. Thank you to the photographers who have permitted us to use their lovely pictures, especially Louis-Thibaud Chambon, who has allowed us to use so many images from his “Lonely Benches” series. To everyone else, happy sitting!