Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Toilette Etiquette . . .

In response to a couple of tongue in cheek remarks I made a few posts down about the scarcity of public toilets in France, Peter of Peter's Paris kindly pointed out that there are some public toilets in Paris, and some rather well appointed ones at that. Specifically, he recommended the facilities which are in the shadow of La Madeleine, saying they may be some of the most beautiful public toilets in the world. Well, I'll hand it to him, I went to look today, and he may be right. One could say they are art-deco. However, I couldn't bring you many photos to substantiate these claims, because filming and photography are forbidden within the toilets proper, which are underground, and an in-your-face toilet-tending-lady makes it clear that no exceptions will be tolerated, even if she is unable to articulate the motivation behind the prohibition . . . The sign at the entrance to the stairs going down to the toilets could be photographed, with La Madeleine's imposing columns in the background . . .
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Part way down the stairs this mosaic named the builder of these WCs which date from 1905; the Porcher company, which remains today a well known manufacturer of toilets in France . . .
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Well, while heading back up the steps after enjoying the interior, I snapped one quick shot, and ran to avoid the guardian's wrath, but I'm afraid it just doesn't do it any justice. You can just see the edge of the red sign announcing that it is forbidden to photograph the toilets. If you have any ideas as to why it would be necessary to prohibit photographing in a public place like this, please let me know, I'm quite intrigued now . . . (next time I'll have to use a spy camera hidden in a flower on my lapel . . .)
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29 comments:

Owen said...

Well, I'm in luck, there's a free WIFI connection in my little hobbit hole of a hotel ! So not totally out of touch... Now, having settled that crucial issue, I wonder if there's anything to eat around here ???

@eloh said...

Speaking as an American.... we have caught a politician or three doing naughty things in public toilets.

So maybe they don't allow pictures because of the abuse it could bring on...taking photos of folks that maybe shouldn't be there.

My guess would be that BECAUSE these are such beauties, too many people (tourists) were taking pictures and thinking about it...I would NOT want my picture taken in a toilet (but oh it has been).

I wonder if there is someone who could give you written permission to photograph these toilets... for documentary purposes.

{You wouldn't have to tell them about all of us... sitting around digging in our ears waiting on some good old pot shots.}

Steve said...

Lovely latrines. A man could point and aim with style in those...

Owen said...

@eloh, I guess one could try writing to the mayor of Paris or somesuch, or the ministry of waste disposal ? Anyway, yeah, not sure people would want to be caught on other folks photos in there, maybe that is why they forbade the making of pot shots there... well, anyone who really wants to see them will just have to come to Paris...
:-)

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Steve, that's the ticket, it's all about style, eh ? Although, judging by what can often be seen on the floors of such places, I think for most people just the point and aim part is already a serious challenge, let alone worrying about style...
;-D

Dedene said...

The law against picture-taking is probably to save the George Micheals of the world some embarrassement.

Did you leave a good tip for la Dame Pipi?

TechnoBabe said...

Potty problems are in every city, huh. You either use the restroom in the restaurant you eat in and then hold it till the next time you eat or you find one that takes coins.

Owen said...

Hi Dedene, no doubt, I guess famous people have to go too... As for Dame Pipi, she needs to learn to smile as she tells people not to take pictures if she wants a tip... I don't tip pit bulls...

Jimmy Bastard said...

Ahhhhh, the strong aromatic smell of pish always reminds me of good oul France.

lady jicky said...

I have heard of this toilet and now I have seen it via you.
Have a lovely break --- now some CSI work . You said "tramping" -- I bet you are a little KIWI???????
Am I right???????

Peter said...

Maybe I didn't see the sign and maybe the attendant was nicer than yours, but I managed to get some photos which you can find on my old blog:

http://peter-olson.blogspot.com/search/label/Public%20toilet%20Madeleine

Margaret Pangert said...

That's a great photo of the toilet, Owen ;) !

AmyR said...

I don't like toilet attendants in general. I'm sure they are nice people but they just make me uncomfortable. I really don't want to tip someone for handing me a towel to dry my hands...

If you are in the area again, maybe you'll find a nicer person to let you snap some photos. ;)

BLOGitse said...

I prefer a toilet with privacy! :)
They should organize 'shoot a toilet' time when people can take photos of those beautiful details... :)

Marguerite said...

You crack me up, cher! There goes your great sense of humor, again. :) Nice potty pics! Have fun!

Jill said...

Dear Owen, I recall that you started a previous vacation by visiting a sewage treatment plant...now you're down a toilet!
;)

It might be that you like to cover all ground...But toilets do seem to lodge in the subconscious...I have more recurring bad dreams on the subject of having to use dirty, backed-up public toilets than any other subject (and I've read that this is a common nightmare). Public toilets are usually very unpleasant, but once in a rare while you find one that is gleamingly clean - I have a real appreciation for those!!

The mosaic work here is a marvel.

*SparkleMirror* Kiln-Fired Art Studio said...

Hi Owen!
I think I'd have been a bit pissed at the lady's crappy attitude... your mosaic shot sure doesn't stink... I'm glad you took it (though you must have been pooped fleeing up the stairs afterwords).
David
;)
*
PS -- Thanks for your comments on SM... your sentiments meant a lot to me! I'm so happy to be back with friends like you.

Karen said...

Hahahah, Peter took me there when I visited Paris in December. It was closed for lunch so we had to return after 1 pm. I saw the No Photographs sign and didn't even get the ones you did. It is beautifully appointed art neuveau style and, yes, the lady warden is intimidating.
Thanks for the memory.

French Fancy said...

toilets I have known - the French Fancy derriere has graced that very same toilet seat that is in your photo. I adore the Madeleine area and whenever I'm in Paris that is the area that I loiter in the most.

J said...

Perhaps people were visiting them just to document their existence, causing calamatous queues for the weak bladdered?

Nathalie said...

A fun post with great comments from your readers :-)
Photographing the mosaic like Peter did is no worry but the no photos sign makes sense: catching someone unaware in this location would be cruel - not to mention those who think this is a hot location for a shooting session!

Nathalie said...

I used your absence to cause mischief: I dedicated a post to you on my blog today. When you come back you can go and see why. Enjoy the tramp (pas trempé, j'espère !)

Tanya said...

Love that tile work!

Loulou said...

Don't know where to drop some lines? In th emiddle of the 20+ comments here or there, like a bottle in the middle of the sea. No, because Owen will always steal some time from I don't know where.
Well... I may know actually.... from his magic lantern show. Probably.
Even out of town, or out of the office, his generosity is spreading.

I am just back in town while you are away. Interesting!
Just kidding.
I will come back longer soon, because soooo many of your stories that I missed the last past week!!!!

Take care+++
Loulou

PS - by the way WHERE ARE YOU?

PS2 - don't miss the gorgeous shots re: TEXTURE on Desi's site!!!!!

Owen said...

Hi Loulou ! You're back !!! So happy to hear from you, and loved that gorgeous first photo you posted of the tea plantation at 1600 meters up... Hope you had a fabulous trip, I'm sure you did...

I'm currently in a totally non-descript hotel in Verdun... the llth of November is coming fast, am getting in the spirit of things, if you like... doing some independent study in history. The history of my adopted country...

Yes ! I did see the texture pictures over at Desi's ! Some good things happening there... and the theme for November is ... Love... that should be fun to photograph...

Hope you and the Loulouettes are all doing great !
Big bisoux !
:-)

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Tanya, almost as good as some ancient Roman mosaic works for public baths... I wonder if someone at Porcher was inspired in that vein...

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Nathalie ! I'm blushing almost as red as the stripes on that big candy cane thingy lying on the ground under your two absolutely smashing rusty industrial debris photos... ! How can I thank you ???
How about with big bisoux ?!
Simply... merci...

PS glad you enjoyed; and yeay, I wouldn't want to be caught with my pants down in a place like this on film and end up on someone's blog...

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Hi J., I guess people dawdling in there with their cameras could cause some congestion and aggravation... Parisians are not always the most patient of people...

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French Fancy , LoL !!! So glad to know that your derrière has graced that very place... And you said "that is the area I loiter in the most." So you like to loiter in those toilets ??? Or do you mean around la Madeleine more generally ? I don't know if they still do them, but there used to be some excellent concerts in la Madeleine...

Owen said...

Hey Everyone, just in case you drop back in here, I had actually written all these answers yesterday, but the wifi connection in this little hobbit hole of a hotel failed, and I couldn’t post them. Fortunately I had copied them by precaution before trying to post, after having lost comments a few to many times, I now by habit hit “control+C” before trying to post…. So here they are 24 hours later…

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Hi Karen, you are so lucky to have had such a marvellous guide for some of your excursions in Paris... and to have seen what may be the finest public facilities in Paris...

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David ! Am super happy to hear from you ! However, with your series of "pissed", "stink", and "pooped", sheesh my friend, I think my trip down into the underworld of toilets has affected your thinking ! Really glad to see you back... I think I'm not alone in saying... WE MISSED YOU ...

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Dear Jill, I see you have a dangerously good memory ! I stand guilty as charged, your honor, of having posted both about sewage treatment as well as public toilets... I'm not sure what the psychologists in the audience might conclude... Funny, I've sometimes dreamed about not being able to find a toilet, but never about a dirty one. For that matter, I have sometimes lived the dream of not being able to find a toilet, in Paris for that matter. Although it is true that there are some public loos like this one, in fact they are few and far between, and late at night it can sometimes be a real problem... which explains the endless puddles of pee in various corners around the capital in the morning...

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Marguerite ! Well, as long as it's you that's getting cracked up, and not the porcelain, then all is well... greetings to the cajun crowd in bayou country !

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Blogitse ! I'm with you, I like to be left well alone for certain private, err, business... And Peter, in his comment just above yours, very kindly provided a link to more photos of this place, of the interior... here :

http://peter-olson.blogspot.com/search/label/Public%20toilet%20Madeleine

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Hi Amy, I'm entirely with you on that one... I don't fancy the idea of people pottering about right outside the door while I'm in the loo... and yes, as Peter said just above, apparently not all the attendants that work there are storm troopers...
Cheers !

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Bonjour Margaret, well, I'm not sure it's one of my best... but these things are a frequent part of our daily lives, and so often ignored otherwise... Loulou very kindly pointed out that there is even a toilet museum in New Delhi...

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Hi Peter, hey, great, many thanks for the link, I just went and looked, great photos of the inside... yup, that's the place. Glad to know there are some nice attendants. I didn't notice the sign until she practically rubbed my nose in it...

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Lady Jicky, well, I don't think I hae any Kiwi blood in me, though I love to eat kiwis, but have always had a bit of tramping blood in my veins... love to get out on road trips...

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Jimmy, oul lad, you sound like you're speaking from experience... ! I think the Paris metro is the worst when it comes to smells, especially when a homeless bag person gets in a car and sits nearby...

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TechnoB, funny, you echo the sentiments here of GG, from Not Waving But Drowning, who said something very similar in one of the discussions that got me started on the topic... this is not the first post on issues related to this in these pages... but "holding it" is not always very comfortable, especially as the hours add up...

Catherine said...

the best loos I have ever seen are the marble bathrooms in Bellas artes Palace here in Mexico City...the theatre production "Los banos" was staged in them - first half in the Ladies and second half in the Gents - quite a dramatic experience - the original play is Irish and has apparently been staged in all sorts of bathrooms all around the world - I did do a post about it a while back...

Owen said...

Catherine... oh boy ! Bathroom theatre ! Must be quite an experience... Will keep an eye out for that
;-D

Catherine said...

I found the link for you...wouldn't wish you to miss out on a whole new cultural experience!!
http://smallfishinthebigtaco.blogspot.com/2009/03/murder-mayhem-and-machetes-in-marble.html
enjoy!!

Owen said...

Catherine, I went to look... excellent ! The lady lying under the stall doors is priceless...