bathrooms in Provence

Jun 3rd, 2005, 05:05 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 78
bathrooms in Provence

my SO suffers with tiny bladder syndrome - I was just reading in Fodor's "Smart Travel Trips" that rest rooms in la belle France tend to be few and that many of those in bars/cafes "are not the cleanest places in the world" as Fodor's phrased it.

What has been your experience? Should she/we be worried about this, or is this just another myth?

Many thanks!
rogerb is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 05:42 PM
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We had no problem whatsoever finding clean restrooms. I always buy something at the restaurant/ coffeeshop/ McDonald's that we stop in.
starrsville is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 05:57 PM
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some cafes and even train stations in France will have only Turkish toilets, a disparingy name used by the French. Technically they're called 'Vespasiennes' taken after the Roman Emperor Vespasian who allegedly introduced them to France during Roman rule - these holes in the ground with two pads on which to set your feet and then squat were obviously an improvement over no toilet at all. It always shocks me when i encounter these medieval devices in France today, one of the world's most developed countries. But even at the Gare d'Austerlitz, a major Parisian train station a few years ago i paid the one euro fee for using the WC/toilets and was left to encounter a Turkish toilet - no seat just a squatter - at least here the toilet had been cleaned after each use whilst in many cafe and public toilets those who can't aim right leave it foul and only sporadically hosed down. A word of advice, before pulling the chain the release a torrent of water that swirls around the hole, get well away as it splashes up! Now in fancy cafes or hotels, etc. you won't encounter these medieval relics but in thousands of cafes, small train stations, public conveniences you will - i've even seen McDonalds on occasion have them. Oh well, don't let the Turkish encounter be a 'let down' for you but savor the experience.
PalQ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 06:07 PM
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They are also at CDG airport; it was quite a surprise to pull open the door and see Turkish! However, there are cultures who consider this far more hygienic than sitting on a communal seat.
palette is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 08:09 PM
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You'll also come across toilets that have no seat on them, just a porcelain rim.

Check the Magellans catalogue for useful products to use with Turkish toilets. The "funnels" work quite well, if I may be a bit indecorous. Magellans also carries W. C. packs, which are useful in regular toilets.

I should note, however, that we have encountered futuristic toilets that clean themselves before you use them (and after, presumably), as well as other interesting devices.

One good thing about the French autoroutes is that there are fairly frequent rest stops with good facilities; some even have showers.
One good thing about tr
Underhill is online now  
Jun 6th, 2005, 08:54 AM
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Intrigued by Magellan's funnels for Turkish toilets - are they paper or something you carry around - not sure how they work - you don't squat?
PalQ is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 08:59 AM
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Most are disposable paper cones. Hold against your body - no squatting. You do it standing up like a man does.
starrsville is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 09:23 AM
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I think that rogerb's wife can relax a little. We spent 6 months recently in Europe just driving around. Most of the time was spent in France. We encountered the "squat" toilets in a couple of rest common at all.
Never in a McDonald's or restaurant.
Never in a hotel. We were in small towns and large cities.

I think that finding a rest room that is acceptable is about as easy as it is in the US. Fast food places in cities are always a good and easy choice.
Tell her to not get too anxious about it.
grayland is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 09:31 AM
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One additional bit of advice. When on the autoroute get off where there is a "Total" or some other oil company rest station. They have immaculate modern toilet facilities. Rest stops called something like "Air de------" are used by truck drivers and they often do have the primitive, Turkish toilets.

Good luck.
Powell is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 09:32 AM
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We just got back from a week in Provence and a week in Paris, and I was somewhat obsessed with the issue of public bathrooms. Most bathrooms I encountered (including, surprisingly, the public toilets at Pl. de la Madeleine and Sacre Coeur in Paris) were fairly clean and serviceable. In our entire trip, I only encountered the Turkish toilet phenomenon at the public toilets in Gigondas. Typically, we used either public toilets or restaurant/bar toilets, with no problems with cleanliness--I would not worry, if I were you. Bon voyage!
lawyerjen is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 09:37 AM
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I agree with those who say it's about the same as traveling in the US (or most countries) in terms of being a problem. It's always the same -- a lot of public toilets (including those used by a lot of folks in fast food restaurants, etc) are filthy. Now as for Provence -- never noticed anything any differently than elsewhere, except you may be in the country or small towns, and thus it is not always easy to find public toilets in those kind of places. It is easier in large cities where you have them in dept. stores, fast food restaurants (if you want to use them and they allow it, I find them usually disgusting), museums, and public facilities on the street. YOu won't find those in the countryside, of course.

In all my travels to France over quite a few years (about 15), I think I have only seen one of those Turkish toilets once (in some old artsy cafe/theater in Paris). I have never seen them at CDG airport, and have used the restrooms there on every trip. I do tend to avoid public restrooms if I can, though, and do not have to use them frequently.
Christina is online now  
Jun 6th, 2005, 09:57 AM
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I have been living in the south of France for over 14 years and I can recommend going into any automated "toilette" that you find everywhere in France. 50 cents/1 euro- These are automatically cleaned every time the door is open/shut.They are small inside though! Otherwise, most SALON DE THE, or up scale looking cafés are clean. (never a "BAR" where people are filling up on beers and wine and peeing drunkenly! ) It is a good idea to have a little packet of kleenex on hand though! I have never had to use a turkish toilette-except in Tunisia and Turkey-but yes, they do exist here. Happy Voyage
sharidu is offline  

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