Public Bathrooms


A Nightmare Worth Escaping

I'm doing it again. I'm going to talk about potty related things. I'm sorry in advance, but I believe that people should get a warning. If you can avoid public restrooms in France, do it. And if nature calls, be prepared, because more times than not, you will be very disappointed by the quality of bathrooms available. 

Imagine those nasty gas station bathrooms. What makes them so nasty? Is it the smell? Is it that they aren't cleaned regularly? Is it that toilet paper is missing? Because if you imagined something like I did, you're picturing some public bathrooms in France. The smell is awful, like a port-a-potty on a cold day. I won't compare it to a hot day because that is the worst. But it's one step behind. Next on the ick factor is the fact that there are no toilet seat covers. Are they precessional squatters or do they sit? Never mind I don't want to know the answer to that question. Next is the most disastrous of them all: the lack of toilet paper. Yes there is no guarantee that the bathroom will be fully stocked with toilet paper. I'm not talking about it missing in one stall and you just move onto the next, I'm talking about there not being ANY in the bathroom at all! Why don't they restock toilet paper?

Next comes the hand washing extravaganza where the water comes out of the faucet with a pressure that matches that of a fire hose or it trickles out like a two year old being potty trained. Neither is just right. You either leave looking like you wet your pants with all the backsplash or feeling dirtier than when you started. But that is not the ick factor. The ick factor is that the way to dry your hands is this reusable towel that you yank down. Yes it's very ecofriendly but I don't want to wipe my clean hands on a towel that still has someone's face makeup still on. When I see the electric dryers I get excited. I know I won't have to touch anything. My hands won't be dry, but at least they won't be dirty. Moral of the story: carry hand sanitizer.

But there are two more things that you can encounter in a French restroom. The first, and probably the most traumatizing are the "Turkish" toilettes. No they aren't torture devices, those two blocks are for you're feet and that open hole is your target. I didn't know that these still existed in first world countries. But these pit potties do, and they're something that I'm avoiding like the plague. But apparently they're clean for something that is a giant shit hole in the ground. Good to know? The second and best option are the toilets that you have to pay for. Usually the price is 50 cents and there is toilet paper! And they're usually much cleaner. These are the most common that you'll find around, and while in the beginning I was mad that I had to pay to use the bathroom, now I would much rather use those than the free ones.

Sorry if it's too much detail but I believe that people from the US need to know about bathroom situations here in France.

You can buy toilet seat covers online because for some reason, they don't seem to exist in a lot of Europe. Also always travel with tissues because you never know when you will walk into a bathroom without toilet paper. 

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