This is not so much a warning or a danger. It's a reminder to be sure you have some loose change handy. You never know when you will need to use the toilet and quite a few public toilets have attendants sitting inside expecting some change; generally any small change will do. Others like the ones (separate WC's for men and women) in the Jardin du Luxembourg have a fixed price! And an attendant is there to make sure you pay up.
The public toilets in Paris are not free, and require users to insert coins before the door will unlock and allow them in. When a person exits, there is a pause before the door closes again. You might be tempted to just sneak in before the door closes to avoid paying, but this would be an enormous mistake. You see, the toilets are self-cleaning, and after the door closes and locks the entire inside of the toilet receives a high-pressure spray of water to sanitize it before the next user may enter. Anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves inside the toilet would get the shower of a lifetime!
Fortunately I do not know this from personal experience, but just observing how they operate it became obvious that trying to cheat the system would be a very bad idea.
I was walking around the Opera district on a Sunday morning, I had gotten up early, had a bite to eat and set out. I hadn't thought to make sure i had some change in my pocket,after all it seems I am constantly trying to get rid of small coins I always seem to end up with..alas all i had was relatively large bills. So I start hearing nature's call, check my pockets and I'm out of luck. Nothing much was open and there didn't seem to be too many people walking the streets. The places i went, though polite, refused to make change for large bills and not much was open on a Sunday morning.
I saw one of these toilets, wondering what they are doing on an elegant street.
Alas, down the street come a small group of Australians. The one guy takes a look at me and says...."mate, you gotta go." I explained my predicament (no change) and the Aussie said "no worries mate"....I took them out for a beer afterwards.
Moral of the story...make sure you carry small change with you on Sundays.
note- these toilets are quite clean thankfully
The famous Samaritine department store has some great (free) washrooms on the 5th floor. The women's room has automatic sanitary napkin disposals (you just wave your hand in front of a sensor), a special liquid to squirt on your toliet paper to clean the seat, automatic sinks and blowers. Beware the if you go to the 9th floor where they sell souvenirs, there are coin machines on the washroom doors.
You must pay .50 EU to use the washrooms at Versailles. The first washroom that we encountered near the bookstore had a long line out of the door. The line consisted of men and women and it was later discovered that men could walk to the front of the line, pay and use the washroom. I got in line and ended up having to leave once I got to the front because I didn't know and I didn't see the sign that said you had to pay. I didn't have any small change on me and I had to leave to find my husband. ONce you pay, you will get a ticket. Keep it, because they could ask you for proof later on. When I was there, there was a man that just wanted to wash his hands. He went in without paying and the attendant yelled and chased after him. She stopped and didn't follow him into the washroom but she then started asked to see our tickets because once you pay and get a ticket, you're still in line for a good 5 to 10 minutes!
I have not seen a single toilet in the Paris Metro, so don't expect to find one inside the station.
They're mostly along the streets, usually next to a phone booth or something.
These are generally clean, and costs 0.40EUR. But in retrospect I'd have gone to McDonald's.
Remember too, that if you hold the Carte Musee you can walk into any museums to use the bathrooms.
Be aware that the toilets are not all the same in Paris. Some are just holes in the floor where you are just to sqwat and go. If you want a real toilet then you will likely pay for it ...Around .40 euro. Well worth it if you are not adept at missing the shoes or pants around the ankles
It would be nice to at least purchase a coco or coffee if you need the break since it really irritates the Restaurant help that you have popped in for a poo!
When I saw this toilet looking up at me I didn't quite believe that I was supposed to use it for MY intentions so I moved on and found another that I paid to use.
After I fell down and hurt my knee in Paris, which, as I write three months later, is still hurting, I realized how inaccessable the bathrooms are to people with physical disabilities. I would include extreme overweight in that catergory too, as you can see from this photo. Bathrooms are often down in the bowels of the resto where you must use either a spiral or very steep staircase. The spiral staircases are so narrow that if you are in the obese category you might have a problem.
On our first trip to Paris we had heard about and then saw these public toilets scattered about Paris, but did not have the occasion to visit them. On our second trip in 2012 we did make a quick(?) pit stop at 2 of them during our days on the Paris streets. I was the first to use one a couple of blocks off one of the main streets. I was able to walk right in, take care of business and leave. However on a nice Sunday afternoon, Sue felt the call of nature as did the 5 or 6 people in line in front of her.
They are very clean inside compared to the Porta Potties and outdoor facilities we have here in the U.S. so I wouldn't hesitate using them again.
I had read that there were costs involved with some, but the 2 we happened upon were free of charge.
I now know why the Franch drink coffee from thimble sized cups, there are not very many toilets about!! In fact they seemed to be very few and far between, not good if you need to spend a penny quickly.
There are loads of free toilets in Paris. They are brown shed like structures. I would only use these in an emmergancy though because you either have to squat or sit on a wet seat. They are ideal for a guy wanting a quick slash.
As you would expect the main tourist attractions have toilets and most like the Grand Arch are free once you are in.
FYI, since 2006 (February 15) Public Toilets are free in Paris.
Sanisette (public toilets / closets like) are pretty clean but decade old.
Since begin of this year, brand new toilets are replacing them : brighter, spacer , greener.
This is pretty cool :)
The only probilem with Sanisettes is that sometime they are OutOfOrder and waiting for somebody to "repair" them (most of the time only refill with paper).
This is a problème on key toilets hotspots where there at huge crowds of tourist (think toilets at RER C entrance near tour eiffel for instance).
So my advice is that if you are somebody that needs to go to toilets often and need to go to crowed location, plan for an alternative location (not something quite far, but one that tourists never go to ...but only parisians).
I'll try to bring a complete Paris Google maps of this some time ;-)
Don't be surprised if you see someone of the opposite sex using the wc next to you. Toilets in Europe are unisex. Yes, yes, yes I know... I didn't like it either but what could I do?? when you have to go, you HAVE to go! doesn't matter who is next to you!
Be prepared to pay for a toilet: there are numerous very small (a little gym inside - very healthy hehe) street toilets - there is no phone inside so better do not shut doors if you are afraid to be trapped inside untill you have cell phone by you hehe.
If you are visiting Paris with a young child who is still in diapers, please be prepared to change his or her diaper on park benches or other such places. Most places, whether they are touristy or not, do not provide changing tables in their bathrooms.
The only places I have been able to find a changing table so far include:
- St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Avenue Hoche
- Printemps department store, Printemps de la Maison (basement level (-1) near the baby clothes) on Boulevard Haussmann
- Eiffel Tower, 1st level public bathrooms next to the gift shop, ask the bathroom employee to open the handicap bathroom
- Chateau de Versailles, restroom near the chateau tour entrance (not really Paris, but good to know)
My poor son has had to be changed on benches by Notre-Dame de Paris and Hotel Des Invalides! I know other people around us may not appreciate this, but we are not given any other choice.
*will update list as more are found