After having traveled to Paris with students a few times, I’ve learned some basic facts. A successful trip requires a decent night’s sleep, tons of crêpes from street vendors, and access to clean toilets – fast. I’m going to share a couple of sure bets with you in the latter category.
The Place de la Madeleine in Paris’ chic 8th Arrondissement has one of the most beautiful public toilets I’ve ever seen. If you’re facing the steps of the church, look to your right for a sign for toilettes publiques (twah-let poob-leek) or public toilets. Take a flight of curved stairs down. From floor to ceiling, the “facility,” which dates from 1905, is decorated with wood paneling, stained glass, brass and mirrors, all with art nouveau flair. Each cubicle has its own washbasin. It’s always clean because it’s maintained by a cleaner from 10 AM until noon, and then from 1 PM to 6:15 PM. You’ll be expected to tip her, but she sure earns her keep.
The length of the lines at the Louvre toilets are only second to the lines to get in. Just steps from the Pyramid, in the Place André Malraux, where the Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre metro stop is located, there’s a big building known as the Louvre des Antiquaires. It houses drool-worthy antique dealers of the highest quality, but it seems like every time I visit, there are fewer and fewer of them. I do hope the economic turn happens sooner rather than later. At any event, what’s still left are the restrooms. They used to be open, but now there’s a keypad on the door. When you enter, there’s a concierge half a level down. Ask for the restroom code. The restrooms are on the lower level, to the left for the ladies and to the right for the gentlemen. They are always immaculate.
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