Using the Bathroom in Paris

Finding a Bathroom in Paris

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Is it me or does it seem like it is infinitely easier to find a bathroom in the United States than just about anywhere else in the world? Maybe it’s because we have a plethora of fast food restaurants and Starbucks, always someplace “to go.” The only time I’ve faced a real sense of urgency has been in some of the large national parks, but hey when nature calls, at least there is nature!

I lived in France for 3 years and have don’t know how many times I’ve been to Paris, but if you put all the days together it should be close to a year. During our recent trip to Paris, we played tour guide to friends and this issue came up often. Made me realize that I’ve spent enough time in the city to share some of my bathroom tips with you.

Cafes

Andi Having Coffee in Paris

This is the easiest way to use the restroom as there are cafes all over! It does require you to purchase something – sit on the terrace and order an espresso, that will be the least expensive item. After doing that you may ask where the toilets are. Of course, you are drinking something so in a few hours you will need to use the restroom again, however, this is how I most often find and use a restroom. You can try to ask to use the toilet without ordering anything and sometimes if a manager is feeling generous he or she will let you use it – I’ve seen it happen, but most of the time they want you to buy something.

Hotels

Le Meridien Etoile
Le Meridien Etoile lobby.

I have had a lot of luck using the bathroom in hotels. BUT the large American franchise variety. They have a lot of foot traffic, larger lobbies and more amenities on the ground floor. The number rule is to act like you belong. If someone asks you if you need assistance, just saying you are meeting friends staying in the hotel.

Here are 3 that I have always had luck in:

Westin Paris – Vendôme

Located at 3 Rue de Castiglione across the street from the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden) and practically across the street from the Louvre, this hotel property has a lot of international and political business meetings and conferences. The entrance to the hotel is on the side, walk past the doormen (remember, act like you belong there), up the little stairs and turn left. At the end of the short hall is a bar, turn right. Continue down the hall and before you arrive at the hotel’s restaurant, you will see restrooms on your left. They are very nice and always clean.

Le Meridien Etoile

Le Meridien is part of the Starwood family and this particular hotel is right across the street from a huge convention center called the Palais des congrès de Paris(Paris Congress Centre) along with being a popular spot for international conferences and business meetings. There are ALWAYS people in the very large lobby and bar area. On our last trip, there was a river cruise group there are well! If you walk through the front doors and head to the bar area there is a little hallway on your right with bathrooms. But, if you walk towards the bar and walk along the left side of it, following the windows, continue walking to the end of that hall and there is another bathroom that seems to never be in use!

Pullman Paris Montparnasse Hotel

This hotel was formerly the Le Meridien Montparnasse and is a half-block down the street from the Montparnasse train station. Like Le Meridien Etoile it is a popular meeting and conference hotel so lots of foot traffic. I cannot remember if you turn left or right once you go through the lobby doors, but there are restrooms on the ground floor.

I “use” these hotel restrooms on nearly every trip to Paris! Remember, look for large hotels with lots of foot traffic, act confident and usually near the bar or restaurant area you will find a bathroom available to you.

Le Point WC

Le Point WC Paris

I first reported on these back in 2010 in my post, “French Friday – Le Point WC – Paris’ Glamorous Toilet!”  Some people have a problem with paying 2 Euros to use the bathroom, but as I am already willing to buy a coffee to use the toilet, I’m okay with paying to use a facility. It is staffed, and in my experience, clean! There are 4 locations that I am aware in Paris: in the Carrousel du Louvre shopping center in the Louvre complex (used it); on the Champs-Élysées at number 26 (have not used); at Notre Dame (have not used) and inside the Printemps department store on Blvd Haussmann (used it).

Department Stores

Galeries Lafayette Department Store Paris

I’m not a big shopper but the department stores along Boulevard Haussmann are definitely something to be experienced. Both are gorgeous from an architecture perspective and both have rooftop views that are hard to beat. And both have bathrooms! As I previously mentioned the ones at Printemps are run by Le Point WC so you need to pay to use them, but at the Galeries Lafayette, they are free! The shopping malls at Beaugrenelle, Forum des Halles, Italie Deux, and Passage du Havre also have restrooms. Other department stores like Le Bon Marché and BHV (Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville) do as well.

Toilettes publiques

Toilettes publiques - sanisette

Also known as sanisette, I have never used one and likely would never use one. The city of Paris does campaigns to promote how clean and sanitary they are, but I’m not really buying it. That’s why I would rather pay to use the bathroom in a cafe or at Le Point WC than use one of these! There are over 400 of these in Paris. Please do let me know if you have used one and what you thought??

That’s it! Those are my tips for finding a bathroom in Paris!

How about you? Have you got a secret spot in Paris that you want to share? Do tell! Any other “finding a bathroom” story anywhere else in the world?

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Finding a Bathroom in Paris

18 Comments

  1. Diane
    July 11, 2018

    Oh wow, I had no idea a place like Le Point WC even existed. Like you, I’d pay the 2 euros for a clean experience. Out where I live in the countryside, there are free public bathrooms, but I know what a pain it is to find a clean bathroom in big cities like Paris. Sometimes even the ones you pay for leave a lot to be desired. I just try not to drink too much water when in Paris. 😉

    Reply
  2. Neely Moldovan
    July 11, 2018

    I do know some good NYC and CHicago bathrooms just from travel. The Starbucks on Michigan ave is a great Starbucks Chicago bathroom 🙂

    Reply
  3. Joline
    July 11, 2018

    I’m not a big fan of sanisettes either lol. When traveling, we always try and find a hotel else we do our business in the restaurant we’re in.

    Reply
  4. valmg @ Mom Knows It All
    July 11, 2018

    I’ve never been to Paris but have always wanted to go. I would think along with hotels that attractions such as museums would have a bathroom for the public.

    Reply
  5. Brandy
    July 11, 2018

    I have had so many friends travel to Paris, it’s interesting to see what is there and not over here in the states. I love learning more about Paris, although I don’t know if I’ll ever travel there.

    Reply
  6. Scott
    July 12, 2018

    Not just Paris, but pretty much all of Europe. Finding a free (and clean) w/c is next to impossible!

    Reply
  7. christine
    July 12, 2018

    I’m dying over here because before I go anywhere, I map out where bathrooms are. This is great information.

    Reply
  8. Peter
    July 12, 2018

    I love where I live. Cafes restaurants and bars aren’t allowed to deny access to bathrooms. Energy the posh hotels will allow you access. Never been to Paris would love to visit

    Reply
  9. Annemarie LeBlanc
    July 12, 2018

    If I can avoid it, I won’t use a public restroom, unless of course, there is some staff standing by and cleaning up after every use. I have seen some of these sanisettes when I was in Europe recently but never tried one.

    Reply
  10. Alicia
    July 13, 2018

    Oh wow, I never realized that about Paris before! This is great info in case I ever get the chance to go to Paris which IS on my bucket list.

    Reply
  11. Drew
    July 15, 2018

    If I have ever needed a “break” in Paris, I just used it as a good excuse for a late morning cafe stop, or perhaps a glass of wine at a wine bar in the afternoon. Good tips on the Western hotels though. They have definitely worked for me in the past in various locations, and they are usually quite nice!

    Reply
  12. Shweta
    July 15, 2018

    Good to know that the Paris city has public loos. I understand your reservation in using them (i prefer hotels, cafes myself) but it is great to have them in emergency.

    Reply
  13. mar
    July 16, 2018

    Interesting, I never thought about this until recently when I forgot the keys to my house and had to wait for my sister for three hours then realised how few public toilets there are in my town and as I had just gone out for a run, I did not even have money to buy anything! I love these clean and premium public toilets I have seen them in Barcelona too and thought it was a great idea. Like you, I think it is only fair to have . drink somewhere and use the bathroom but have found both large hotels and malls the best option when you just can’t have another coffee

    Reply
  14. sherianne
    July 16, 2018

    I’m a big fam of hotel lobby restrooms and I usually ask the doorman where it is as I walk in. The sanisette look nicer than the port-a-potties we have in the US!

    Reply
  15. Indrani
    July 17, 2018

    Yes this problem is genuine. Even I would prefer to pay to use the bathroom in a cafe.
    Seen those sanisette but never felt comfortable using them.

    Reply
  16. Vasu Devan
    July 17, 2018

    I quite empathize with this post. Many people may say , how can topic of toilets ever become a post and I say little do they know and also can emphatically say that they have never been in Europe. By the way it is just not Paris . Most places are a problem. However , the famous American Burger franchises lets the customers use their W/C free of cost! and when we went to Europe last year , there are plenty of them in every city 🙂 🙂

    Reply
  17. Kirstie Saldo
    July 17, 2018

    I have never been to Paris, and didnt realize that finding a clean public bathroom in that tourist spot is difficult! On second thought, I don’t really find clean public bathrooms in my country too, except those in Starbucks, and in hotels. And yes, we do have a lot of tourists, as well.

    Reply
  18. Jean
    July 18, 2018

    I love this so much. I seem to always be that person that needs to pee. It’s not such a huge issue in Australia but it is in Europe.

    Reply

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