Using The Toilets in Paris (where to find them!)

Few tourists can appreciate the European concept of forking out cash to use the jazz; but let’s not forget travelling is all about taking in other cultures and embracing our differences. And lets be honest, I’m certain most of us have experienced times when we’d pay just about anything to use a loo. Here are a few examples of the classic latrine experiences that await you and a basic guide of how to use them: Doing it in a cafe:You haven’t experienced France until you’ve been to the unisex toilets in a French café. They are mostly downstairs where you find the telephones. Sometimes there is a urinal in this open telephone area that folk walk by to get to the squats. Some men may feel a bit uncomfortable with the lack of privacy, especially if there are a couple of people using the phones while they are trying to go, in which case the squats may be more appropriate.Squats (Turkish style toilets) are a little awkward at first but you’ll eventually get the hang of how to stand and deliver. It’s mostly indicated where your feet should go, some squats even sport a handle on the wall for you to hold onto whilst you crouch and aim at the black hole in the ground, but don’t hang around too long as the lights are usually on timers. Café toilets don’t supply paper, so be sure to have sufficient supplies. Take care when flushing as these toilets spray water all over the place. Technically, toilets inside Café’s are free for their clientele, unless you found one that has a coin apparatus on the door, so it’s only courteous to order a coffee afterwards, which equates to a very expensive call of nature, considering you’ve just gone in what amounts to a shower stall. Going public:If you feel more comfortable in a Western style John, head for the public toilets where you pay the aide. They’re just like western style loo’s apart from there being an old dear sitting beside a stand, collecting coins for the use of the facility. A price list is displayed indicating the fee charged to take a shower, have a number one, a number two, etc. Another price is charged for men – depending on whether they use the booth or the urinal. These are common in bus and train stations as well as some auto service areas. Going hi-tech:The coin operated automatic street toilets are tremendous. My first experience with such a high-tech self cleaning toilet (complete with rocking toilet seats and music) was in Paris. At this juncture I feel compelled to issue a couple of warning. After you’ve fed it the required coinage, the door opens automatically and you walk into a newly disinfected wet floored toilet. Actually, the whole toilet is decontaminated and dosed with disinfectant following each use, leaving a wet seat. You have fifteen minutes to go, so there can be no hanging about as the door automatically open, exposing you to the world. My teenage son thought he could save a few coins by ducking in whilst someone was exiting. No doubt he had forgotten my warnings of earlier and was promptly sanitised — the toilet received no payment so thought it was empty and retracted the toilet bowl into the wall (with him still on it), then sprayed him with sterilizer. Going commando:If you’re caught without change and need to go, fret not. There are many places in France with truly free toilets. The main bus terminal in the Paris has free toilets and so does the Georges Pompidou Centre. Their free sit-down toilets are at the entrance and third floor library. The loo’s are located in the entrance areas so you don’t need to pay to get in. Also, the underground mall below the Louvre pyramid has free toilets near the entrance to the metro station and also downstairs close to the entrance of the car park. Junk food restaurants – yes, the American fast food culture has infiltrated France, meaning free toilets. Just pop into any McDonalds, Quick or Burger King for a real ‘back home’ sit down toilet. I’ve never figured out why folk pay to use toilets at stations when the toilets on the trains are free. Ethically I suppose this is a no-no as you’re not meant to use train toilets when the train is inactive but you should be able to slip in unobserved. However, you might want to check the departure time before doing this. How to use a Squat 1.    Lock the toilet door but ensure you have sufficient toilet paper or tissues before you enter – finding a dry corner for them may be a challenge. 2.    Lower your pants to just pass centre thigh but make certain your trousers/skirt is hitched up around the knees first as they may get wet. Think of your jeans as the US military camp and the…
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