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Brenda Breslin Sep 10th, 2000 12:56 PM

France + Toilets
I know the French must think other nationalities are obsessed with toilets but here goes. <BR> <BR>France I love you but your toilets????????? <BR> <BR>I don't understand how your womenfolk don't mind waiting for a cubicle while you all pee away quite happily in front of them. Several restaurant toilets were like this. One man even started a conversation with me and the woman next to me while urinating. <BR> <BR>Public toilets are something else again. Men are usually OK but do the French think that women want to go around peeing on their shoes all day long. By the way I discovered the trick is to take all lower garments off, DO NOT USE THE FOOT PLATES, assume the position of a Tour De France cyclist and aim straight at the hole in the ground. I feel like I've completed a personal challenge in succeeding in splash free emmisions by the end of the holiday. <BR> <BR>Are the French happy with these toilets? What about the elderly etc? You need to be pretty fit to use these toilets. Not everybody wants to,or can aford to, buy a meal or a round of drinks in a restaurant just so you can use a decent toilet.We did that once and 3 cokes,1 orange juice and one glass of water came to 830F. A bloody expensive pee that was. <BR> <BR>How have other people coped while on the road in France. Surely there must be a way for us and the children (3 girls) to gain access to a decent toilet without having to buy a meal or drinks? <BR> <BR>We are going to Provence for 3 weeks next year and all I can think about is how am I going to cope with 3 kids wanting the toilet again? <BR> <BR>Brenda

adina Sep 10th, 2000 01:05 PM

I agree with you completely. One of the things I loved about driving in France is that even on smaller roads there are picnic stops all the time but the bathrooms are nightmares. I must admit that I personally managed to never go (very lucky in the bladder control department) but that is certainly not normal for most people. The worst bathroom that I saw was in Vezelay-- the town is so beautiful, the views and tympanum perfect but the bathroom, ugh-- I actually took a picture of the foot thing because I couldn't believe that such things existed (this was on our first day in France and on our first trip with a car). I have no idea how people cope with it regularly. England on the other hand should receive high praise for its bathrooms (in fact, the bathroom at Blue Pool in Dorset had such an award posted!)

Joanna Sep 10th, 2000 02:14 PM

I too luckily have fairly good bladder control, but took advantage of every 'good' loo opportunity. When we had breakfast or any other meal/snack in a cafe I made sure I used the loo on the premises. When browsing in department stores made sure I went there, even if I didn't 'need' to go. My friend went into a disgusting underground public toilet at Reims and the smell nearly made her throw up. Maybe the French noses are immune to the pong??

jesse Sep 10th, 2000 05:39 PM

Now, we know why McDonald's is so popular in France.

Myriam Sep 10th, 2000 10:39 PM

Don't know where you all have been, but it must have been far off the beaten path. Twentyfive years ago, during our first vacations in France, we came across those typical French toilets everywhere but nowadays one must really do an intensive search to find them, at least on the important autoroutes. <BR>

Sjoerd Sep 11th, 2000 04:25 AM

If you paid French Franc 830 for 3 cokes, 1 orange juice and one glass of water, you were ripped off in grand style! Even in the most expensive Paris restaurant this should not have been more than 250 FFrancs.

Al Sep 11th, 2000 04:52 AM

I wonder if those wonderful street conveniences, les pissoirs, are still to be found on the streets of Pars and other French cities and towns. Always painted dark green, they were very useful for males and one could even tip one's hat (with the free hand) at passing mademoiselles while doing one's business, so I was told. The French they are a funny race...

Bob Sep 11th, 2000 05:25 AM

On the trip that we just took we had no problems. So it may have to do with the area that you're in. We would look for the information office and would use the restroom there. Some may not have been very nice but none were bad. The ones in Paris where you pay 2ff were very nice.

Peeewhew Sep 11th, 2000 10:01 AM

I will never forget my wife's first encounter with one of these toilets. We were on our first trip to Paris and paid a visit to cemetery Pere Lachaise to stroll around. Upon exiting we spotted toilets right by the exit gate. I proceeded into the Men's, did my thing and came out. There she stood witht his funny look on her face and she said "I can't do it. You have to see this." I went and in and there it was, the infamous hole with two foot prints. However, it wasn't just the facility that upset her. Some earlier user had missed and the whole floor was covered wiht a pile of poo-poo....disgusting to say the least. <BR> <BR>However, as disgusting as it was at the time we now laugh about it and every time we go to France I tell her we must search out those "special" toilets just for her.

Brenda Breslin Sep 11th, 2000 11:22 PM

The toilets I encountered were not off the beaten track as suggested several times. Some were in hugely touristed areas. eg. Rocamandour both in the centre of the nearby village L'Hospitalet and at the top of the Cathedral. Both cost 2F to enter by slot machine and both were hole in the ground types. Another example at a car park in Sarlat one of the most heavily touristed areas in the Dordogne. Once again 2F to enter through a slot machine. Those people who say that these toilets hardly exist anymore are misleading. I could give many other examples and exact locations and they are not out in the wild beyond. <BR> <BR>I think the truth of it is if you can afford to go from hotel to cafe all day long you will not suffer. If like us you cannot afford to keep buying food and drinks in cafe's along the way and using the toilet facilities you are going to find it difficult driving in France with children. We did use McDonalds a couple of times and felt awful as we received disdainful looks. I'm sorry France but families with children simply cannot afford to keep buying stuff in cafe's everytime one of them wants the toilet. We are not being 'the rude English' just wanting your toilet facilities. <BR> <BR>Brenda

Florence Sep 12th, 2000 12:57 AM

Brenda, <BR>As a French, I completely agree with you: the situation is a shame, and even we complain regularly about the disgusting state of most of our public toilets. Unfortunately, there is no votes to gain in improving facilities for tourists on a budget... <BR>I concur with the poster who links this situation with the polularity of McDonald in France (or in Japan where the situation is even worse).

Sandi Sep 12th, 2000 02:21 PM

I have a funny story to share with you all about toilets in France. This is specifically about one of my traveling companions and another member of our tour group. Our bus had stopped in the small town of Poitier(sp) for a restroom/stretch-your-legs break. There was a really nice cathedral a couple blocks away and I decided to head this direction instead of to the restroom, didn't need it at the time. Anyway, my friend was one of the first off the bus and was the first to arrive at the restroom. It was in the basement level of a parking garage. It was one of those self-cleaning, totally automatic toilets, with the green light/red light on the outside. Instructions were plainly stated in both French and English next to the door. My friend was in too much of a hurry to read the instructions. He went in, couldn't figure out how to lock the door, but decided to act fast and get out before the crowd arrived. When he was through he stepped out, politely held the door open for the little white-haired old lady who was waiting next in line, (she didn't read the instructions either, apparently), and my friend then headed back outside. Of course, as soon as the door closed and the poor lady was starting to do her thing, the automatic toilet started to do its thing with a cleaning cycle. Later at dinner that night everyone was talking about how all hell broke loose on this poor lady. She was to yelling from inside, "It's flooding, it's flooding," and ran out with her pants still around her knees. She was quite wet from the water which was swirling around to clean the restroom floor. I'm not trying to be mean, the lady was laughing about it herself later on. But it was just so funny at the time. My friend didn't hold any more doors open for ladies after that. <BR> <BR>That's my French toilet story. Hope you found some humor in it. Our entire tour group certainly did. <BR> <BR>Sandi

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