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Sanisette Public Toilets

Forget pissoirs and hole-in-the-floor squat toilets. In today's Paris, public 'sanisettes' are high-tech, self-cleaning, and mostly free. Here's what they look like and how to use them.


ABOVE: This sanisette is near the Opéra Bastille (the glass building behind the tree).

Not so many decades ago, the phrase "Paris public toilets" evoked images of smelly streetcorner pissoirs, hole-in-the-floor squat toilets at neighborhood cafés, and lavatories ruled by female attendants with the demeanor of prison guards.

Today, nearly all of the vespasiennes or pissoirs are gone, and tourists of both sexes are well-served by modern, self-cleaning toilets known as sanisettes on boulevards and in parks throughout the city.

The sanisettes come in several styles, but all have the same basic design:

In the past, sanisettes were pay toilets, but the city of Paris began converting them to free operation in February, 2006. Free toilets are identified by a sign that reads "Toilettes - Accès Gratuit."

(Toilets in the suburbs usually aren't free, so if you venture outside of Paris,  keep a few 20-cent coins on hand for emergencies.)

Here are a few more things you should know:

For illustrated directions on how to use sanisettes in Paris, please continue to the next page.

Next page: How to use a sanisette

In this article:
Paris public toilets
How to use a Sanisette

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