When we arrived at the airport I was half running, half dancing into the terminal.
“Oh I love it!” Caren exclaimed, “Michal is so excited to go to Paris that she’s dancing!”
“What? No! I just need to pee,” I corrected. “Finding a restroom will be on the top of our agenda. I’m sorry ladies but this is something you will have to be used to. If I drink anything I immediately will have to Go.”
“Well, that’s OK,” Robby sighed, “I’m the exact same way.”
Restrooms were found followed by a place to sit for Nibbles and Sips and this has remained the goal through the whole trip. All day everyday is spent moving from Cafe to Cafe and toilette to toilette.
There are public restrooms all over the streets. They are these huge gray port-o-potty type things. None of us will use them but Robby has told me they are quite efficient. There is a bowl to dispense ones waste but there is no hole in the bowl. The sensor inside knows when you are off the bowl and then the bowl folds into the wall where the waste is rinsed out. A clean bowl reappears for the next user. Regardless to the efficiency, I just can’t bring myself to use them.
One of our favorite places to Use The Facilities is Starbucks. Sadly, I have to admit to being a patron of Starbucks in France. It’s not for the coffee that we keep going here for but the comfort of knowing what sort of restroom we will encounter here. The first time we went in, we all decided to get coffee while there. They ask for your name to write on your cup just like the baristas in the states do. Robby, Caren and I each ordered and then took turns rotating through the restroom.
“CaREN,” called the barista in his French accent.
“Mi-cal?” Amazing to me that they mis-pronounce my name here the same way as in the USA.
Wapi. It was the best pronounciation of Robby’s name that I had ever heard! What’s even funnier though is it wasn’t just a mis-pronounciatian but there on the cup was written “W-A-P-I.” Once out of the coffee shop we died laughing! The name has stuck and our fearless leader, Robby, now has an alter ego named Wapi. Best souvenir of this trip.
One thing Wapi has been very concerned about on this trip is that despite the availabiltiy of public restrooms, public urination is quite prevelant on the streets of Paris. Every now and then you’ll be overcome with the smell of it. One reason for this is that everyone in Paris has a dog and the dogs are welcome everywhere.
“It is safe to assume that every lamp post, every tree, and everything has been peed on by a dog or a man,” she warned.
Often in the mornings you will see shop keepers scrubbing the walk way in front of their shops. Despite all of the peeing the streets are really quite well kept and clean. Trash cans and recycling bins are everywhere.
One afternoon we took a break from shopping to bask in the sun outside of a cafe. We sat at a little table out front, sat down our shopping bags and ordered our wine in one swoop. We had not been sitting long when Wapi noticed that Caren had set her shopping bag on the ground next to her chair.
“Oh God!” Wapi exclaimed. “I have one word for you: Dog Pee.”
The quality of the restroom is not foretold just based on the quality of the shop or cafe. You may be at a fine museum and find your typical public restroom scenario of multiple stalls and questionable level of cleanliness. Or, you may be at a little cafe, tucked into a remote village and find accomodations that are clean, with fresh aroma, and bright red color tiles and seat to boot! We have developed a grading system based on 4 things: availablity, design, cleanliness and odor. You would think cleanliness and odor go hand in hand but I’ve been in some very clean looking restrooms that stink of urine. We blame the urinal. Lots of unisex facilities.
There was a very nice restraunt we chose to dine at on St. Germaine. It was rather high end but we were ready for dinner and needed a good restroom. We were certain this posh facility could offer us that. There were stalls for the ladies and gents. I had to give this one a low rank though because it was not very clean. Often the toilets are seperate but there is one sink for both the men and ladies to share. Not a problem. It is a little bit of an awkward situation though when the shared sink is next to a urinal.
Yep. I washed my hands while one of the wait staff relieved himself in the urinal right next to me. Fancy restraunt.
Paris is very old and the buildings are very old and so creative things have to be arranged for the plumbing and so we understand these oddities to be somewhat necessary. This also means there is often only one toilet available. We ladies are often rotating through the restroom. One stays at the table to order while the other two line up for an available potty. When one of us returns the Orderer is then free to line up. At the end of the meal/snack/cocktails, the rotation occurs again with a Payer remaining at the table and each of us going in turn again. We have to go whether we feel the need or not because we don’t know when the next potty will be found. By the time all three of us have gone we are often finding whoever went first now has to go again. We’ve decided it was a good thing our travel party was small or we would never make it to the next point of rendevous.
Peeing/restrooms may seem an odd topic of a blog on Paris but it has been a most influential force in our trip. All decisions and most of our discussions have revolved around this issue. Who needs to pee, where can we pee, and laughing until we pee. Oui, oui!