What are public restrooms like in Paris?

Nov 25th, 1998, 10:36 AM
  #1  
Fran
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What are public restrooms like in Paris?

We'll be in Paris next year in April, and I've heard varying reports on what to expect when using public restrooms. Are the restrooms clean, safe, unisex, single sex, or what!
 
Nov 25th, 1998, 10:53 AM
  #2  
Lee
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Fran: It all depends on where you are. many public places such as monuments and the like have the same style we are used to here, but may have an attendant on duty, which you might leave a small tip for.

Restaurants and places like that are the same as here in the US.

Some restrooms on the street for example, are unisex with only a hole in the floor. Interesting.

After five or so trips to Paris, I've only had the opportunity to see that last one just once, up close.

In Europe, you can find unisex dressing rooms at hotels for swimming and fitness. They think nothing of it and neither should we. No one stares or makes you feel uncomfortable.

Have a good trip!
 
Nov 25th, 1998, 11:08 AM
  #3  
Lisa
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When I was in the southern part of France last year some of the public restrooms you had to pay to use. When you left the toilet it washed itself down on the inside---very interesting.
 
Nov 25th, 1998, 11:12 AM
  #4  
Yvonne
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The restrooms in the Louvre, d'Orsay and Marmottan museums are just like in the USA. The Orangerie's was unisex, but otherwise just like in the USA. Versailles had a fee of maybe 2 francs - not unisex. One thing that is different, I don't know if it's the water pressure or the quantity of water, but when you flush WHOOSH, it's like Niagara falls.
 
Nov 25th, 1998, 11:18 AM
  #5  
Fran
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What a hoot!!!! So let me get this straight....if I have to use a "portajohn" on the street my aim better be pretty good, and otherwise STAND BACK
 
Nov 25th, 1998, 01:45 PM
  #6  
marilyn
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Public restrooms run the gamut--everything from the hole with places for your feet, to ones just like here. Some cafes in the older parts of Paris continue to have the hole type, which I could never figure out how to use safely in slacks. In some parts of town you need a coin to insert in the door to get to the toilet, and then the sink area is unisex. If you come across some stalls--not actually stalls, they have a full door almost everywhere--where you can't locate a light switch, don't make the mistake of leaving the door open, thinking you'll be in complete darkness if you don't: the light comes on automatically when the door is fully closed.

One thing that HAS improved is toilet tissue--it's no longer the coarse stuff of my trips to Paris in the 70's!
 
Nov 25th, 1998, 02:14 PM
  #7  
Lisa
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Fran,

Consider it part of the "cultural" experience.
 
Nov 25th, 1998, 02:32 PM
  #8  
s.fowler
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The ceramic hole-in-the-floor with the treads on each side were, back in the 60s when I first ran into them [including a *bad* hotel in Paris], called Turkish toilets by the Greeks and Greek toilets by the Turks... Oh well. I ran into them again in Macedonia recently, including one in an office in a rather modern building. It can been a bit acrobatic... and DO stand back when you flush!
 
Nov 25th, 1998, 03:47 PM
  #9  
Caryn
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Many people have found the bathrooms in Paris to be similiar to the US. I disagree but not in a bad way. One thing I find all over Europe to be much BETTER than the US is that they do not use the same style of stalls--that is metal doors with big cracks that you can see through on the sides and the top and bottom exposed. I have NEVER seen this in Europe (and I've been all over). Instead, even if there are several "stalls," they are always completely private with walls to the floor and ceiling and a full door that you close. They are usually unisex. So what? Many women would agree--this privacy is a great improvement over our US bathrooms, especially when you're away from home.

I'm surprised more people didn't say that you should always be prepared to pay 2F. This doesn't mean you always will have to pay. If there's just a coin slot, sometimes they're left unlatched or you can wait for someone to come out of an occupied stall if you don't have change and hold the door open for free. Sometimes a waiter at a cafe will give you a token for the coin slot. If you are at a train station or some other place where there is an attendent, you will definitely pay--probably 2,50F. Some other bathrooms are free.

Don't worry about the TP and if you see a hole in the floor (and you probably will at some point), just go next door.

In general, I find the whole public bathroom experience to be much more clean and pleasant than that of the US. I don't even mind paying for the bathroom because as a New Yorker, you are just not allowed to use the bathroom in many places if you are not a customer. If you have to go in a cafe or something, just walk in, look at someone in charge, point to the back, and say, "Toilette?" and they'll point the way.
 
Nov 25th, 1998, 04:48 PM
  #10  
jeanne
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What a great subject-I was going to write an article years ago called "Where to pee in Paris", but I never got around to it! One of the great things about being an Ameican in Paris is that you can walk into just about any of the big hotels and they think you are a guest-eh, voila, the perfect place to pee-and besides it is always cool to tell your friends that you used the bathroom in the Ritz-even if you didn't get to stay there-although, as posted you may have to pay a franc or two for the privilege. One of my favorite places is the Novotel near Les Halles-the restrooms are near an entrance on the back side of the hotel facing Les Halles and you don't even have to go by the desk, there is no madame pi-pi and they have a quiet phone booth to boot!
 
Nov 25th, 1998, 06:10 PM
  #11  
Tom
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All that aside, there is something a bit disconcerting the first time that you are standing at a urinal, and a woman walks behind you on her way to the enclosed privacy of a "doored" potty.
 
Nov 25th, 1998, 06:44 PM
  #12  
raeona
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Right, Tom! Almost as disconcerting as discovering I'd have to walk right by a fellow at a urinal to get to the ladies' room at the LeHavre train station. On second thought I decided my need wasn't all that great! As for the single hole in the floor and nothing else -- they're not that rare, I encountered several on our Paris visit this summer. Disconcerting, to be sure.
 
Nov 26th, 1998, 04:32 AM
  #13  
Lisa
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Concerning the "holding the door" suggestion to paying---as I said before when I was in the South of France the public restrooms we paid for sprayed themselves down on the inside after each use. We thought this was triggered by the opening and closing of the door so we were afraid to hold the door for the next patron. Thought that second person would get the wash down.
 
Nov 27th, 1998, 09:38 AM
  #14  
Caryn
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My "holding the door" suggestion is for regular toilet stalls. Not the public pay toilets on the street that are self-cleaning. Lisa is right--the switch to wash the toilet down is triggered by the door.

What my boyfriend can't figure out is those bidets!
 
Nov 29th, 1998, 07:42 AM
  #15  
Aurora
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Bidets? No mystery. When on leave from the front in '45, we used them to cool bottles of beer. As for those one-holers, you simply put your wallet between your teeth, squat, and keep your weight on the balls of your feet. Lean backward and all bets are off. And, for Pete's sake, never sneeze.
 
Nov 29th, 1998, 11:35 AM
  #16  
Pepe LePue
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Oui Oui!
 
Nov 30th, 1998, 01:16 PM
  #17  
Ann
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On one long ago trip to Paris I used the facilities in a Museum (can't even remember which one) and spent long moments trying to figure out how to flush. I finally gave up and was feeling very badly for the next user...when I undid the latch and voila!!!! That triggered the flush! Must have been the same stall where the lights only come on with the close of the latch ;-).
 
Dec 2nd, 1998, 01:21 PM
  #18  
Yvonne
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I've not used the self-cleaning restrooms. But on the way to the train station in Cannes, I noticed the fire department attempting to get someone out of one of those contraptions. Granted this was in 1989, perhaps all the bugs have since been worked out. Hopefully the occupant was rescued prior to the "wash down".
 
Dec 10th, 1998, 05:40 AM
  #19  
Vincent
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It is funny to see that such a question has triggered so many posts, but, after all, that's part of life, isn't it ? I have even read a very interesting and serious historical study about those places. Anyway, just two remarks :
1) If there are any San Franciscans among you, you already know what we call "sanisettes", those integrated, self-flush toilets that have been sold to your city, so you'll feel at home more or less. Just note that in certain parts of Paris (not the tourist ones), the "sanisettes" are a haven for quick prostitution, and the occasional drug-fix...
2) "Turkish" toilets might be a little tricky to use but they couldn't more hygienic (the only part of your body that touches the toilet is your shoes... ) and natural (the muscles are just in the right place)...
 
Dec 10th, 1998, 09:09 AM
  #20  
curious
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To the latest poster -- or anyone else who has practical knowledge -- if one is wearing pants (e.g. jeans) and normal underwear, and one needs to perform the function normally done by both sexes in a sitting position on western toilets -- what does one do with the pants and undies? Totally undress from the waste down? (Seems safe, but time consuming and bothersome if there is no place to hang the clothes.) Somehow move the clothing down around the ankles and try to be tidy and balanced? (I can envision this with really loose fitting clothing, but not with normal jeans.) How do most users of these toilets deal with this dilema? -- Or do they just do like me -- wait until a sit-down facility is available?
 

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