The toilettes (WC) in France !!

Well, this is a very special need and when we are traveling , essential to know where to go ! I like to dare talk about the toilettes (WC) , rest rooms and especially the public toilets of my belle France. Do you know how they came about? You know where they are if in need in the middle of a trip? Then, read on and feel at ease…literally. Hope you enjoy the post and get a joke as I.

My lovely Bretagne/Brittany/Breizh is at the top of the ranking of the regions best equipped with public toilets (WC). With 1,652 installations, our region has one public toilet for every 2,000 inhabitants, according to a study by the Water Academy. Brittany is obviously a region that shows good citizenship and pays attention to health issues, is also a very touristy region and the number of clean public toilets gives a good image ,Public toilets are toilets made available to passers-by or visitors to a site open to the public. Of course, I have to start with this info! They are all over usually by the church or city/town hall of a town.

A useful site to know and find public toilettes in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56: https://www.toilettespubliques.net/departement-morbihan.html

In Paris there are nearly 435 sanisettes installed. Their access is free, and they are accessible to people with disabilities. In addition to toilet facilities, the City of Paris also has a large network of accessible toilets and urinals in its parks and gardens. In total, 300 toilets and urinals are accessible in the Parisian gardens: 7 Decaux sanisettes, 2 channel urinals, 5 “uritrottoirs” and 149 toilets which total 290 individual cabins. If a person is trapped in the room, call 33 (0) 1 30 79 79 79 who will do what is necessary for a repair to take place quickly. The only old remaining public toilet in Paris is located near the Maison de la Santé, boulevard Arago (14éme), it is the only example of a public toilet dating from the beginning of the 20C. The others were gradually withdrawn and/or destroyed.

The city of Paris on public toilettes: https://www.paris.fr/pages/les-sanisettes-2396

The Paris tourist office on plublic toilettes: https://en.parisinfo.com/practical-paris/useful-info/public-toilets

A bit of old history of public toilettes let me to find this bit of info. Rome, 1C AD , the Emperor Vespasian had the idea of establishing a tax on the collection of urine, which was used in particular for the preparation of fabrics before dyeing, ammonia having cleansing properties, In order not to soil his pants by squatting on his toilet, Bert Vandegeim (Belg) would have tied his pants around his head like a turban. His wife would then have compared it with an Ottoman padischah, thus giving this name of “Turks” to the toilets just invented. The French still believe that the low toilets on which one must squat uncomfortably to carry out the needs ordained by nature, imposed on them by the Ottoman Empire. That’s why they call them “Turkish style” toilets, Why do we say in plural the toilets (toilettes)? The use of the plural toilets, to euphemistically designate a lavatory, dates from the 20C. Chiotte (toilet) feminine name derived from chier by 1885, used in the plural for “cabinets (of ease)”; use in the singular (20C) sometimes leads to a change to the masculine. So we say « toilettes » and not toilette.

I did a bit of research online and found some information on the WC, toilettes or rest rooms, It was only at the end of the 18C, when it was forbidden, by the King, to satisfy one’s natural needs on public roads, that public urinal projects began to emerge again. to alleviate difficulties in complying with this edict; and this in particular thanks to Antoine de Sartine, lieutenant general of police from 1759 to 1774, who decided to install “barrels of ease” in the streets of Paris.

In Paris, the people deposited their excrement in the road which is a public place to deposit their household waste. Residents of private dwellings used chamber pots. At Versailles, courtiers relieved themselves on the balconies, behind a curtain, a door or in the courtyard without hiding from it. In France, the toilet flush appeared in 1775, Alexander Cummings (UK) added a curved pipe in the shape of a U which prevents odors from rising. The water in this pipe was replaced with each flush. Before 1840, the modern toilet flush with the bowl was not widespread. In Paris between 1791 and 1869 the first urinals were born, it is then the appearance of the first vespasiennes. “Necessity” chalets are also emerging, which finally allows women to relieve themselves in a place other than their home. In 1857, Joseph Gayetty (USA) marketed the first packet of toilet paper. Roll-shaped toilet paper appeared around 1907.

The public toilettes on the Yvelines (78) and Versailles: https://www.toilettespubliques.net/departement-yvelines.html

Like other French fashions of the 1680s, the word toilet was used in many countries, and originally referred to objects of hairdressing and body care arranged on a dressing table covered with cloth and lace, on which stood a mirror which could also be draped in lace; the set was a toilet. Then the word toilet was euphemistically adopted in expressions such as washroom . This change was related to the introduction of public toilets (as in trains) which required an indication on the door (WC or water closet eng) . In France, wash room(s) is another term that is generic and attributed to toilets. Initially, it was a small room in a house, a cabin, today an office, in which one retired in order to indulge in an intellectual occupation requiring intimacy and concentration: reading, painting, collecting singular historical, precious, natural science, Arts … work objects ..etc, even to arrange its appearance and dress. By destination as by euphemism, the washroom is therefore this small room where you can relieve your needs in complete privacy and without the possible scents or sounds inconveniencing the other people present, therefore strategically located away, even out of the way. It remains with the invention of the flush in the 16C, the place reintegrated with splendor the wealthy residences, always a little away from the living rooms and dining rooms, and became the lavatory or place of ease now employed throughout the Francophonie (French speaking world).

In 1834, a year after a major cholera epidemic, Count Claude-Philibert de Rambuteau. Prefect of the Seine, Haussmann’s predecessor, decided to apply the hygienist theories very fashionable at the time. He had 478 vespasiennes (as for Roman Emperor Vespasian ) installed along the main roads of Paris. First called “Rambuteau columns”, these individual pissing cubes earned him a lot of ridicule. Five years after this invention, advertisers were authorized to post on wooden panels backed by vespasiennes… which are therefore the ancestors of the Morris columns , these column-posters that were created in Haussmann’s time. The increase in car traffic is most certainly the first factor in the disappearance of pissotières (pissing cubes) in Paris, but their bad reputation is also not unrelated to their frequentation by homosexuals ,no longer tolerable, and from the 1960s, their disappearance, voted by the National Assembly, is recorded. Little by little, the urinals disappear one after the other, becoming ancient relics of a mythologized gay Paris. In November 1981, the first JCDecaux pissotière, a jewel of modernism, inaugurated a new era of mixed toilets, paying , and rid of homosexual hugs. It was in 1981 that Paris saw sanisettes flourish on its sidewalks for the first time. At the end of December of that same year, the capital had 59 in service.

The Public Toilettes site for all of France, you won’t be far from one ::) https://www.toilettespubliques.net/

The JC Decaux’s 433 gray sanisettes will soon be replaced in Paris. The new public toilets must be installed by the end of the current contract with JCDecaux, on December 5, 2024. Already managing more than 400 sanisettes in the city, JCDecaux has won the call for competition from the mayor of Paris to replace them with a new model by 2025. These are 435 new-generation automatic maintenance toilets ,which will be gradually deployed between 2024 and early 2025 to replace current equipment dating from 2009 , The sanitary facilities will be particularly sober, since water consumption will be reduced by nearly 2/3 and electricity consumption by 1/3 per compared to current equipment , But that’s not all: the teams in charge of cleaning the toilets will travel on cargo bikes or in electric vehicles for major repairs ,Result in the coming months…

The official JC Decaux on publit toilettes: https://www.jcdecaux.com/press-releases/jcdecaux-ramps-development-its-fully-accessible-self-cleaning-toilets-essential

There you go folks, a public service from yours truly! Now no more worries on the run, and this road warrior appreciate them a lot. The in town/city public toilettes are an essential part of road travel ,and glad France is at the point of modernity. Again, hope you have enjoy the post as I.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

4 Comments to “The toilettes (WC) in France !!”

  1. I wonder why there is no picture? Could be fun 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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