Finding a public bathroom on holiday can be traumatic! Some places make it especially difficult with rules and practises that I’m not even going to pretend to understand. Armed with the passport stamps of myself and my colleagues, we thought we could relay our experiences to you, to ensure you don’t spend your r & r cross-legged. Having myself visited Paris at the end of 2016, I felt that my trauma was healed enough to finally talk about. So let’s take a look at what you can expect (toilet-wise) if you’re planning a hiatus to Paris this year. Ready?
I’m just going to lay it down. Paris is unfortunately one of those places that expects you to pay pretty much everywhere to use the bathroom. I was caught out many times by not realising you had to pay, not having the right coins or paying too much thanks to tricky toilet attendants.
Let’s keep this tight and lay down the facts….
• Make the best use of your hotel room. Seriously, use the toilet before you leave for the day and even pop back in if you’re nearby. Depending on what area you’re in, public toilets can be hard to find.
• Search out government buildings, or buildings like libraries to make use of the facilities (they’re usually free).
• Keep a supply of 50 cent coins, 1 Euro coins and 2 Euro coins with you in case you need to use a pay toilet (Tip: toilet attendants put large notes in their jars attempting to trick tourists, don’t leave them 10 euros because you feel guilty, like some of us did). Leaving 1 Euro is the standard amount.
• Make use of restaurants while you’re dining. All restaurants must provide a free bathroom to paying customers.
• You can also use coin operated toilets that you’ll find on the streets of Paris. Although, when I walked by one day and the door whooshed open to reveal an unsuspecting tourist’s legs a-dangling, I never really found the confidence to try them out. Again you’ll need 2 Euro coins to use these if the risk excites you.
• I’d also recommend that you keep a supply of tissues with you at all times. Why? I tried to use a paid toilet while in Paris and discovered that the attendant had removed all the rolls of toilet paper so you would pay her extra to hand you a square or two under the door. Not cool.
• What I found exceptionally annoying was that even after paying the admission fee to Notre Dame, you still had to pay 2 Euros to use the toilet (and it just so happened that I never had change, oh joy!) So a cache of small change really is a must. On the other hand, places like the Louvre has an admission fee, but it was free to us the toilets. There doesn’t seem to be a reliable rule here so always be prepared – unless you don’t mind doing most of your sightseeing dashing through the streets looking for the loo!
I hope this helps you on your travels this year. Please let us know how you get on and if you discover any more gripes about going to the bathroom in Paris that you’d like to share!