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bathroom facilities in Paris?

hi,
I am looking for tips or advice re: using bathroom facilities in Paris. I hear that the type and quality can vary greatly and I am looking for the locations of some decent North American style bathrooms with sit on toilets or even handicapped toilets if they exist. I am older and have bad knees so I need to use these kind of toilets. I am serious in case you think I'm joking. We will be in Paris for 3 days only. If you know of the location of any good or at least decent bathrooms please let me know.
:-) Many THANKS to all who have replied to my query. I really appreciate all the valuable tips. Yes I am a woman in my 70s with one knee replaced and another to be potentially done eventually. So, believe it or not, this is an important issue for someone like me. As I am sure many other older women will agree, squatting is absolutely not possible. So I am very glad that the Turkish toilets are not the norm in Paris. Stairs are an issue but at least they are doable.

Posted by
16941 posts

Mickey D's are everywhere. Just buy a coffee and get the bathroom key.

Posted by
4388 posts

If you have a Paris Museum Pass, you can go into the site or museum to just use the restroom. Also, think ahead and be creative/flexible. I was by the Sacre Cour after the end of a walking tour and my water bottle was empty and I needed a restroom. People were selling water bottles and I believe there was a public restroom that you pay for. I saw a Starbucks, which I tend to avoid in Europe (and actually in the U.S., too) but I realized that I could sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and get the bathroom, wifi and water for free! And my recollection was that the cup of black coffee was ridiculously cheap. I don't recall any toilets in Paris that didn't have a typical toilet seat. I would carry some tissues just in case. At last resort and when desperate, I have gone into a restaurant or hotel and basically thrown myself at their mercy and have never had anyone turn me down.

Posted by
28145 posts

The Paris Museum Pass is an excellent suggestion - I was beaten to it.

There are museums all over Paris, some you will never have heard of but they are covered by the pass, and virtually all of them have excellent clean and free toilets which are modern. If you need one, drop in (note when they are closed) and use one. Then see what's on offer in that museum and you may find a new favourite.

You'll have a great trip.

Posted by
15063 posts

Rule #1. Never pass up a bathroom. Every restaurant and every museum have acceptable toilets. I have never seen a squat toilet in Paris. Rule #2, a first-class hotel will have the best toilets and they will never turn you away. It's usually worth going in just to see their public areas. I stopped going into McDonald's because the toilets aren't as well kept up as other places. Starbucks is a good idea. I believe most cafes have acceptable toilets, available for the price of a drink - and you may well want to rest your weary feet over a cup of coffee, a soft drink or a glass of wine (all are about the same price as a bottle of water).

Unless you are going to buy the Paris Museum Pass anyway, it's a very expensive option for toilets.

Posted by
2746 posts

Second the “never pass up a restroom” advice. I have relentlessly drilled this into my kids heads and it applies to adults as well. When leaving a cafe, restaurant, museum, hotel room, department store, or anywhere else with a restroom - go try to use it.

Stop into a cafe (or even a Starbucks/McDonalds) for a cheap drink, sitting break, and restroom. That’s always my strategy.

I haven’t seen squat toilets anywhere in western Europe. Rome often has missing toilet seats, and in Greece you can’t flush paper - but you are asking about Paris. In my experience Paris restrooms are similar to their US counterparts.

Posted by
6483 posts

Oh how things change over the years. First squat toilet I ever saw was at a train station in Paris. First trip to Europe. I choose to wait until I checked into Hotel Claude Bernard. This was 1972. Long time gone.

Posted by
2547 posts

Claudia, I remember finding a squat toilet in Venice. I too decided to wait, this was 1977. We were in Venice this past summer and went into the Hard Rock. It is always crowded so no one notices. We ended up having a drink at the bar cause the a/c was so high we needed the cooling off. There are Hard Rocks in many cities now.

Posted by
8515 posts

Toilets are as clean or dirty as US toilets, which are not very clean in my experience. But bad knees make it difficult. Train stations have attendants at the toilets who keep things in order, but the suggestion of hotels and small museums is good.
As for squat toilets, there is still one at Restaurant Polidor on rue Monsieur Le Prince. They are also installed at reststops that don’t have restaurants on the autoroute; at least one stall is a squat. I still use them though it’s harder to get up nowadays.

Posted by
21326 posts

In 2017 I found public squat toilets in L'Isle sur la Sorgue and in one town farther south--maybe Collioure? In any case, if it's a multi-stall facility, it's worth checking all the stalls, because one may well have a western-style toilet.

It does seem to be that missing toilet seats are more common in Europe than in the US, but I spend more time than the average traveler in places a bit off the main tourist path, and I haven't spent significant time in Paris itself.

Oh: Train stations in major cities are normally reliable since there's someone right there, monitoring conditions. Figure it will cost you in the 1 euro range. I'm not sure about the possibility of missing seats, though.

Posted by
4684 posts

The only place you're likely to find a squat toilet in Paris nowadays is in a really old-fashioned neighbourhood cafe that hasn't been redecorated in decades. Vanishingly unlikely to find one anywhere a tourist would go.

Posted by
8885 posts

As mentioned above, never pass up a bathroom. In Paris I have stopped at Starbucks to use theirs in a pinch. No Turkish toilets in Western Europe? Not true. In France I found one in Collioure. In Italy I found one at Lake Garda in 2016 (first time I've seen a stainless steel one) and I've seen them at small train stations and public bathrooms in hill towns. I always carry a small packet of tissues and hand sanitizer.

Posted by
9929 posts

Do start hoarding Euro coins for public toilets. Keep them in a pocket where they are handy!

As indicated I use the Museum Pass for easy access to nice toilets but this is easier to do if you are not on your first trip to Paris and know where things are.

I've used the public facilities on the plaza right outside the front doors to Notre Dame Cathedral and they are OK - they have an attendant and you have to pay so they are clean.

Posted by
8293 posts

My daughter, when little, used to retch when using the rough and ready toilets we would encounter on camping trips. When she was about 20, on a trip to Paris, she had to use the squat toilet of the cafe where we had stopped for a glass of wine. She returned to the table in a state of shock and more than a little grey about the gills.

Posted by
8430 posts

Good restrooms in the Luxembourg Gardens and right behind Notre Dame.
A café at the eastern end of Ile St Louis (behind Notre Dame), La Flore en l’Ile, has two. One of them (left side of outdoor terrace at the back) is the better one and no steps but the inside one is fine, small and a couple steps, but it’s fine.

Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte had a squat toilet until recently. Montalcino, Italy had one 10 yrs ago at the Fortezza, might still be there.

I grew up in France starting in 1960 and they were every where. First day of school, 4 yrs old, went to restroom, only squat toilets. I’d never seen one before. I was horrified. Decided nope! Definitely not using the restroom ever at school, and i didn’t... 😂
We were also given wine at lunch, but i digress...

Posted by
5792 posts

Our Paris hotel room had an ensuite bathroom but very small. The bathroom was a "modern" addition to the older Le Marais hotel. The very small bathroom had a sink in the middle and toilet and small shower on each side of the sink. The bathroom was just wide enough for the toilet. Closing the bathroom door was a tight maneuver. I would expect that a very rotund person could have had difficulty. The bathroom was definitely NOT handicap friendly.

Posted by
1135 posts

To my great surprise, the cost of public toilets in Paris have raised dramatically.
The place next to Notre Dame was around 3 EUR if I remember correctly and the Champs-Elysees 2EUR.

I loved that they called them "luxury' restrooms. Lipstick on a pig.

Posted by
8293 posts

Well, you know, any port in a storm and I will happily pay 3 euro when truly desperate without moaning about it.

Posted by
13754 posts

Has the city removed the pissoirs that they installed last summer? They were free, convenient and as clean as the corner they were located on.

Posted by
6733 posts

It is easy to find bathrooms in Paris and it is now rare for them to be squat toilets. I have not encountered one in Paris in years; last time was an unmanned public restroom at Butte Chaumont park where half the toilets were squat and half western -- it was unstaffed and so filthy. Staffed bathrooms in parks e.g. Tuilleries, Notre Dame (although it was closed last time I was there), Luxembourg Gardens etc are all clean and have western toilets. Every cafe has a bathroom and for the price of a quick coffee at the bar, there you are. Note that most toilets in Paris are down steep stairs or sometimes up steep stairs. I have not found any of the cafes to have squat toilets in years although I am sure there are some here and there that do. The large department stores have restrooms although the pay ones are ridiculously overpriced; some are free. The toilet cabinets on the street are free and western style; the cycle time is fairly long so in crowded areas there can be quite a wait. McDonalds requires purchase to use their toilets as does Starbucks; you get the code on your receipt.

In the countryside at train stations, the toilets if available (very often they are not) are often squat toilets.

Bottom line -- this is a non issue

Posted by
11978 posts

I have an app on my phone called Toilets in Paris. I've never used it. Parks have toilets, grocery stores have toilets, department stores have toilets, cafes have toilets, museums have toilets. There is always some place nearby that will have a toilet.

If you're a guy, there are even some fairly exhibitionist sidewalk toilets available.

I get through by not wasting an opportunity to use a toilet when I pass one and also by knowing the types of places that are likely to have toilets for the public. I'll only use a cafe if it's an emergency. I much prefer to buy something if I'm using someone's toilet.

Always keep some change on hand. The going rate is about 50 euro cents to use the toilet when they either have an automatic gate or attendant.

The free self cleaning toilets are neat but they are often out of commission or, if there is any line at all, take forever. The cleaning cycle takes only a minute or two but that's between each time one person walks out and another walks in. Maybe if you got in line well before you needed to use a toilet?

Posted by
8430 posts

Janet, i would not recommend the restroom at BHV, the dept store on rue de Rivoli in the 4th. One restroom for the entire huge store, with a line that can easily take 45 min. Many times i’ve had to leave the store to find a restroom somewhere else.

Posted by
1024 posts

In a small (and older) café near the Musee D'Orsay, my gf went upstairs to use the facilities. When she returned, I took my turn and lo and behold, there was a squat toilet in the bathroom. Upon returning to the table, I asked my gf how she enjoyed the toilet, and she informed me that in the ladies' room, there was a sit down toilet. So, the French are upgrading, but ladies first.

Posted by
8515 posts

Actually, for someone with bad knees, as the OP states, this is an issue. She can neither hover nor get back up easily. In fact, with bad knees she ideally needs a grip bar or a raised seat--but that's a pipe dream anywhere except at home or a medical facility.

Posted by
21326 posts

I encountered a line for one of the self-cleaning toilets, I think in Narbonne. There were about six people in front of me, and it did, indeed, seem to take forever. It was like the ladies' room line in a sports arena during a figure-skating competition--a situation with which I am highly experienced.

Posted by
784 posts

I agree that McDonald's and Starbucks are good choices for "Les toilettes," but as a 70-something with 2 knee and hip replacements, I feel compelled to tell you that "les toilettes" at many locations are either up or down a steep stairway. I have lucked into several places where there the toilettes are on the ground floor, but regrettably haven't made a list of the locations. I have never been turned away at a cafe when I indicate that I would like "un cafe" but first need to use the toilettes. I always make good on buying the cafe before leaving.

Posted by
8430 posts

I just downloaded the Toilets in Paris app and it was useless to me. It will not let me zoom in. Just a map of all of Paris with a bathroom icon literally everywhere. Because i can’t zoom in it’s impossible to see exactly where they are.

Posted by
1894 posts

There are definitely still squat toilets in Western Europe.
Some train stations still have them in Italy; and I have seen one in Paris in a very old café.
And of course, they are all over Turkey: European and Asian sides.
So they are still there!!!
We call them "flush and jump" toilets.
My husband was traumatised when he first saw one, and that was in Paris.

Posted by
8515 posts

I’m not sure what the big deal is over squat toilets. I had plenty of French friends who had shared toilets in their apartment buildings, some off the stairs between two floors, some for all apartments on one floor, sometimes in the courtyard. Squat toilets were preferred in these situations as you knew they were clean and you weren’t sitting on a seat soiled by a neighbor.

The last of our friends to get a private toilet was some time in the 1980s when her neighborhood in the 20th was redeveloped and she was moved to public housing. Before that, she had to walk outside along a balcony past other apartments to reach the shared WC.

At least we weren’t around when the waste was tossed out the window into the street.

Posted by
8293 posts

“Gardy loo”, as they used to say in England.

Posted by
8430 posts

Bets, i could explain why i think they’re disgusting and difficult to use, but it would be too graphic here. I also remember them smelling awful, and saw many that were not clean at all (which i realize is not exclusive to squat toilets).

Posted by
6733 posts

While squat toilets are actually physiologically superior and cleaner to use, they are pretty tough for elderly or disabled people to use. I am in my 70s and find managing them a lot more difficult than I did when I was 30. Many of them don't have grab bars. Best of all is a staffed toilet as most public toilets are like those in the Luxembourg Gardens or Tuilleries as they are kept clean. But the squat variety are vanishingly rare in Paris.

Posted by
1971 posts

You have to watch your fluid intake. I went 8 hours walking Paris without going to the restroom. A personal record. If I'd been sipping from a water bottle the entire time no way I would've made it. It was harrowing, my friends.

Posted by
1220 posts

f it makes you go feel any better this European hates using public toilets in the US! What is it with the cubicle doors?! Inches of space on each side and the door only starts half way up! :-)

This American definitely agrees with you- can I please have doors that go all the way up and locks that show occupied and unoccupied. The worst we've come across are the ones built by the Utah Department of Transportation at highway rest stops- stall doors went maybe four feet up. We figured the conservative population of the state back in the 1950s when those rest areas were built wanted to make darn sure there would be no rest stop hanky panky and that's what they came up with to deter that.

Posted by
5770 posts

Once you've been to Japan, all toilets anywhere else will seem primitive and disgusting by comparison. Trust me on this.

Posted by
676 posts

Actually, the only squat toilets I have ever had to use were in Japan. YMMV.

Posted by
153 posts

To jump to the other extreme, if you want the very best, or the most over the top, of bathrooms you should go out of your way to visit the Baccarat Museum ladies room. We had lunch at the Crystal Room one day, and arrived a bit early. My dear Wife used the room, and since there was no one else around, said I must see the facilities. Truly awe inspiring! The men's room was no slouch, either, but the woman's john takes the cake.

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GGRV_enUS751US751&q=baccarat+museum+restroom&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjNyOCvr7fgAhUCMHwKHXt9DEIQsAR6BAgGEAE&biw=1477&bih=746#imgrc=GTXcaSlpgJxtqM:

Posted by
198 posts

Look for American hotels. They will likely have lobby bathrooms and the staff will speak English.

Posted by
8515 posts

There you go Gini. Nukesafe has the winningest bathroom for you at Baccarat!

Posted by
3355 posts

I am looking for tips or advice re: using bathroom facilities in
Paris. I hear that the type and quality can vary greatly and I am
looking for the locations of some decent North American style
bathrooms with sit on toilets or even handicapped toilets if they
exist. I am older and have bad knees so I need to use these kind of
toilets...squatting is absolutely not possible.

There is no requirement for you to squat in Paris! One of the perks of the Museum Pass is access to bathrooms with a decent amount of space. Also look for hotels and large restaurants. At the restaurants, ask the greeter or bartender first. I did not have a problem at all in November. Just be polite and thankful afterwards.

Posted by
2347 posts

My very favorite toilet in Europe is in the Hotel Negresco in Nice. The Men's room is a reproduction of Napoleon's tent at Waterloo. It's appropriate, sinct it is a loo with water.

Posted by
6 posts

very interesting input about how squat toilets are possibly cleaner than sitting toilets. Being an older female I remember being instructed by my mother to position myself in a semi squat over any toilet seat in a public washroom and NOT touch the toilet seat. Later when that became uncomfortable or just not as easy as it had been I would cover the seat with toilet paper before sitting. There was a short period of time many years ago when I got lazy and just started sitting directly on toilet seats without worrying. Then one day I discovered I had pin worms!!! :-O What a shock. I am not sure if I got them from a toilet seat or possibly something I ate but after that I went back to cover the seat with toilet paper. Fortunately there is an easy and fast treatment for worms and I never got them again. These days I either cover the seat with toilet paper or I use a bunch of toilet paper with handsoap on it and wipe the seat down.

Posted by
8515 posts

Park and school sandboxes are notorious for pinworms. Stray cats use them. Parents of 3year-olds be on the lookout. It’s a quick fix with a bit of meds. Didn’t know about toilets, though.