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.
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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.
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
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).
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.
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!