France And Public Urination

Dec 23rd, 2004, 05:16 AM
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France And Public Urination

Further to the other thread running at the moment I would like to confirm that I have seen men urinating in almost every region I have visited in France so it's not exclusive to Paris. I have spent at least a month of the year in different parts of France since 1999 taking in various villages in Brittany, Normandy, Poitou Charente, Dordogne, Midi Pyrenees, Lorraine, Picardie, Ile De France and Provence. In almost every place I visited I saw at least one if not more occasions of public urination.

The last one was this summer. I had arrived with the family to visit the Futuroscope attraction near Poitiers. As we got out of the car a man and his two sons got our of the car in front immediately unzipped their flies and urinated there and then in the car park in front of us. Anyone who has visited Futoroscope will know there are toilet facilities prominently displayed at the entrance. We were only about 20 feet from them so how can their display be justified.

I really like France and it's culture but I am surprised and disappointed that they let themselves down in this respect. I am also amazed at the amount of times you can go into a cafe or bar and find abysmal toilet facities. Sometimes just one unisex hole in the ground type toilet and no paper or washing facilities.Then people come back out to the bar or cafe to resume drinking and eating.

Why on earth is it like this? To install flush toilets and a basin etc now in the same space is not exactly expensive for a small business. I don't know why the hole in the ground toilets are still being manufactured. They are a nightmare for women and children and are rarely supplied with washing facilities.

To those who like to "have a go" at tourists who seem overly concerned with toilet facilites I have to say after sleeping, eating and drinking using the toilet is the one thing we have no choice but to do several times a day.It is very important especially for families travelling with a range of sexes and age groups. Anyone who has ever been in a situation where they or a fellow traveller has been in discomfort with no where appropriate to relive themselves can testify to that.

Dec 23rd, 2004, 05:56 AM
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It truly is a slow work day...

however, just to clarify, this is not a unique French custom...Examples:

"...the subcontinent has a peculiar culture which accepts public urniation. Men are seen urinating openly in public places without a fear of any embarrasment. There are no hard and fast rules on how to take a pee, you can simply unzip your pants or your “Shalwar” to aim it at anyplace you feel comfortable. Normally, men like to aim at the walls on the road side. These walls don’t have to be in any isloated places, you are free to do it right in the middle of a bazaar..."

"...Incidentally, public urination was commonplace throughout Japan in the Tokugawa period and, though still illegal, remains so today..."

Public urination in the CBD is not restricted to the homeless population (commuters and laborers are also guilty)...Stereotypes should be avoided; it was noted that public urination is a much more common and accepted practice in Europe, as well as other nations and societies across the world..."
Travelnut is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 05:59 AM
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Have you ever been to Ireland? Especially when the pubs close? Dublin streets were filled with men urinating on doorways to shops all up down the streets.
We nearly drowned in Cork trying to get back to our hotel late at night!
Patrick is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:02 AM
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I'm not sure that this thread will prove to be helpful or civilized, but I thought that I'd add that everyday near my office I see the same cluster of men, and almost every day I see one of them urinating against the same wall, and every day as I walk past into my very nice office building I smell the stench, especially in summer. And in my office building, which is full of supposedly educated, white collar workers, the state of our unisex lavatory by mid-day is quite off-putting to say the least.

Uncouth,inconsiderate, unsanitary behavior occurs in many places. There are indeed cultural differences, even among people who live in the same nation.
elaine is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:02 AM
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As a woman, I'm just jealous...!
Tallulah is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:06 AM
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Elaine, where in France do you work???
Patrick is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:15 AM
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Saw lots of this in Romania too. Just consider it performance art. Sort of like one of those living statue mimes, but... you know, like a fountain.

Clifton is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:16 AM
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It's not just endemic to France - it's common in many European countries and elsewhere (

Also, there have been a number of studies that show that the "Turkish toilets" are more sanitary than the "regular" ones.
StCirq is online now  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:25 AM
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I also noted this behavior on Guadeloupe while visiting a few years ago. A man was reliveing himslef in the downtown squre. As no one seemed to take notice, I assumed it was standard practice.

I have experienced filthy toilets all over the world, none worse than in China when I walked into a public ladies room and was met with a trench dug into the earth through whcih water flowed. There was a line of women in there. It was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in this regard. I waled to the nearest cafe and paid $5 to use their bathroom which was only marginally better.

In the Cinque Terre this year I met up with another bathroom that I will never forget at the train station in Vernazza. I knew I was in trouble when I got in line behind a family of four from Australia. When the mom came out, she told her daughter that if she was not absolutely desperate, she should spare herself. I, unfortunately, was absolutely desperate.
kfusto is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:28 AM
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Maybe we were just lucky but we didn't see anyone urinating in public in Paris,
We walked all over that city in the day time and at night.
jeffwill4you is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:53 AM
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good point Patrick
I should have said I work in New York City
elaine is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 07:02 AM
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Hee Hee, Elaine. I knew that.
Patrick is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 07:07 AM
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During marathons/half marathons you will see men head for the bushes, rather than wait in the port-o-potty lines and risk their PRs - right here in the US.

I know it is a different situation happens
indie is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 07:14 AM
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it's not just men - running to the corner bodega late one night I came out of my building to find a woman sitting on the one of the steps into my co-op - odd I thought, until I saw the river she was creating - she was obviously drunk
Carta_Pisana is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 07:30 AM
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Tallulah wrote, "As a woman, I'm just jealous...!"

I agree!! This is the one situation where we ladies have no real direction or control. But just think how bad the problem would be if 100% of the population had the capability of a fine aim, instead of just half.

P_M is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 07:44 AM
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Of course I realise that this is not unique to France it's just that in other respects the French have it spot on. Beautiful architecture, fine paintings, beautiful parks, a sense of style and dress and of course fine cuisine and exquisite wines. Why oh why when they have all that do they ruin it all by peeing in the street?

Dec 23rd, 2004, 07:54 AM
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Milan was pretty bad also. Not only did we see men urinating in the street we saw numerous people letting their dogs "duty" right there on the sidewalk. Now, living in Las Vegas I've seen my share of drunks releiving themselves in public, but the odor really lingered in the streets of Milan. Unfortunate, but it's out there.
travelinwifey is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 08:17 AM
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I've just remembered this little gem...

Did you know that in London (I'm not sure if it is valid for the whole of the UK) by right of an ancient city law that has never been revoked, pregnant women have the legal right to squat in the street for a wee if the need takes them!

Now THAT would be a sight...!!
Tallulah is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 08:48 AM
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I've never seen that public display when I've been in Europe. I'm lucky. What appalls me is the seemingly American habit of spitting in public!
Jeeez...loueeze.. Now THAT's gross!
SuzieC is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 09:00 AM
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SuzieC - I agree - yuk! In Hawaii, I've noticed that the spitting is particularly bad with local teenage males - they congregate in groups (like all teens do) - usually the mall - and almost like it's some kind of "manly" posturing, they will hock back and let go this disgustingly large wad of spit on the pavement. One will do it, then never fail, the rest of them will follow, one after the other. It's disgusting.

But back to the peeing - I've been fortunate never to actually witness it in Paris - but I sure did smell the after effects - usually in a Metro stairway or corner.
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