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France Reviews

France is a very special country to visit. From the cultural mecca of Paris to small medieval villages, it has something for everyone. (Note: If you can't stand cigarette smoke, don't go to France. Everybody smokes like a fiend there and there is no escape from it. I typically bring clothes and just throw them away as the trip progresses. If not, they will stink like smoke forever and doing laundry in Paris is too big of a pain/expense. Just go to the GAP and buy new clothes as needed).

Paris Other Areas of France  
Paris in General Lyon  
Paris Airports Courchevel  
Paris Neighborhoods Chamonix  
  Chateau Chambord  
  Megève  
  Tre Grande Vitesse (TGV)  

Paris in General

Paris is not the most crapping friendly town in the world—especially for handicrappers. Most places, such as cafes, require you to be a customer before using the restrooms. Or, even better, they will have pay toilets installed. So it is always good to keep a few coins on hand just in case.

Cafés

Instead of trying to document every cafe in Paris (of which there are seemingly millions) we would rather offer a general impression of this typical French crapping venue as they are almost all identical. Most cafes will require that you be a customer before you can access their facilities. Also be prepared to have a Euro or 2 in loose change to get in a stall. This will be critical in an emergency. In return for your change, most restrooms will be private and clean with decent facilities. However, most will not be handicrapping accessible, so check before you go. Have no fear of the cafe as a crapping venue.


Street Kiosks

One of the most unique things about Paris is there famous street toilets. Gone are the days of the open urinals (although that doesn't stop anyone from peeing or crapping where they like) to be replaced by these convenient street kiosks. Even the Mystery Crapper is too embarrassed to actually use these but an emergency is an emergency. All public toilets in France will require anywhere from 1 to 2.5 Francs (now Euros) to access so make sure to always have some loose change when you venture out. Many will have special handicrapping access.

User Friendliness = 2
Cleanliness = 2
Privacy = 3
Facilities = 2
Overall Rating = 2

Paris Airports

The airports of Paris are excellent. A couple of tips about getting to and from the airport and the city center before we move on. To and from CDG, I suggest taking the Roissy Train (also called the RER B) instead of the bus. Simply, the bus will sit in a ton of traffic and the train won't. From CDG to Paris center will cost about €7.50. BTW, the Euro is roughly equal to the dollar. This train will take you to Paris Gare du Nord train station (Paris has six train stations). It is important to note that at this station, you must exit the train, go through a turnstile, and go down stairs to catch a different train that continues on to the city center. You do not need a new ticket for this. But make sure to hold on to yours as you will be required to use it to get in AND OUT of various turnstiles along the way. Or you can catch the Metro to other parts. I point this out because on the Metro/RER map, it appears as if the train goes straight through without a stop or change. From Orly, the bus or train works fine and seemed less confusing to me. See the web site for more details and directions. Web Site

Charles de Gaulle Airport (Roissy CDG)


The first thing you should know about CDG is that it is also called Roissy. This is important because all of the trains and busses to and from the airport to the city are called Roissy. But more about that in a moment.

Dumbass that I am didn't take a photo of the toilets here because I thought (wrongly) that I already had a few from my trip last year. I probably thought the same thing last year too. Regardless, the toilets are typical institutional stalls of various configuration. Nothing special. However, try to find restrooms in the gate areas before exiting through Customs & Immigration. They are more available and easily found. Once you pass to the outside ring, it becomes more difficult to find the facilities. As mentioned before, they are nothing special and will provide a good opportunity to go before you attempt to interface with the French rail system. Web Site

User Friendliness = 2
Cleanliness = 2.5
Privacy = 3
Facilities = 2.5
Overall Rating = 2.5


Orly Airport

It has been a while since flying in to this airport on the south of town. Very institutional and safe. The web site has good directions on getting to town. Web Site

User Friendliness = 2
Cleanliness = 2.5
Privacy = 3
Facilities = 2.5
Overall Rating = 2.5

Paris Neighborhoods

The city is divided into 20 different neighborhoods called arrondissements. We will give you a brief overview of each and then you can click on each one to see some of the best and worst places to "go" in each.

1ère The geographical center of Paris. Includes the Louvre, Les Halles and the Palais Royal.
2ème Primarily a business district. Landmarks include the Paris Stock Market (the Bourse) and the Bibliothèque Nationale.
3ème This neighborhood, along with the 4ème, makes up the Marais, one of Paris' oldest neighborhoods. Characterized by 17th century mansions.
4ème The center of the Marais, the Ile St. Louis and the Ile de la Cité are the oldest parts of Paris and include Notre Dame Cathedral.
5ème The Latin Quarter got its name from the Sorbonne, where Latin was spoken by students in the Middle Ages. Lots of cafes and shops.
6ème The St. Germain was once known for its bohemians and intellectuals. Now it is know for its upscale restaurants and shops.
7ème This wealthy neighborhood includes the Eiffel Tower, Napoleon's Tomb, the Rodin Museum and the Musée d'Orsay.
8ème A diverse neighboorhood it includes the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysèe down to the Place de la Concorde.
9ème Includes the Paris Opera, the Pigalle (red light district) and the Moulin Rouge.
10ème Includes two main train stations, Gare de l'Est and Gare du Nord.
11ème Primarily residential district, the Place de la Bastille and the New Opera can be found here.
12ème A primarily residential neighborhood.
13ème A primarily residential neighborhood.
14ème Known for cafés and restaurants around the Blvd. Montparnasse.
15ème A primarily residential neighborhood.
16ème Exclusive, wealthy neighborhood.
17ème A diverse residential neighborhood.
18ème Montmarte is an artsy village-like neighborhood. Includes Sacre Couer Cathedral.
19ème Outer-lying residential area.
20ème Outer-lying residential area. Includes the Père-Lachaise cemetery housing many famous people including Jim Morrison.

1ère Arrondissement


The Louvre (Main Lobby)

The Louvre (Remote)

Musée du Louvre

One of the places you must see in Paris is the Louvre (unless they are on strike). I have been to the Louvre many times before but last year it was closed due to a strike. This year I went back and scouted the situation and there are some good tips and tricks.

First, the Louvre has great access to bathrooms. Most people don't realize it, but the main reception area under the famous I.M. Pei designed pyramid is free to enter and houses a good, free place to go, even if you are not going to enter the exhibits.

Under the entrance to the Richelieu wing of the museum, there is the public toilet. It has a few stalls but don't be surprised if they are overrun by Chinese tourists who are very slow pissers and spend the entire time hocking loogies. Your best bet here is early in the day before the crowds start. The place is relatively clean considering the amount of use it gets and privacy is ok.

Entrance to the museum is €7.50 and tickets are good all day so you can come and go as you please. I won't spend a lot of time telling you how incredible the Louvre really is. The Mona Lisa is the most overrated thing in the whole place. Make sure to check out Hamurabi's Code (you know, the first written law. An eye for an eye and all that), the Greek and Roman statues (everything you studied in art history class) and the large format paintings. (Be aware that many exhibits are prone to periodic closures for no apparent reason and without warning).

If you enter the exhibit area of the museum, there will be numerous pit stops along the way and are marked on your map. The catch is that they will close certain areas of the museum from time to time so you may get blocked from a facility shown on the map. However, these remote pit stops can be your best bet for availability and privacy. All of the facilities vary in terms of their design and facilities but most seemed to offer full walls and doors, good privacy and cleanliness.

It was also my impression that the entire facility including restrooms were very handicrapping accessible. You can check their web site www.louvre.fr for layouts, schedules and other information.

The Louvre (Main Lobby)
User Friendliness = 3
Cleanliness = 2.5
Privacy = 2
Facilities = 3
Overall Rating = 3

The Louvre (Remote)
User Friendliness = 2.5
Cleanliness = 3
Privacy = 4
Facilities = 3
Overall Rating = 3.5

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2ème Arrondissement

3ème Arrondissement

4ème Arrondissement

Notre Dame Cathedral

While conveniently located next to the Cathedral, these public facilities (similar to the Eiffel Tower) are so crowded that they are rendered almost unusable. Expect a line of at least 30 to 50 people and a long wait. Be prepared to be hassled by gypsy women aggressively begging for money. Try a local cafe instead and avoid this place for emergency crapping.

User Friendliness = 1
Cleanliness = 1
Privacy = 1
Facilities = 1
Overall Rating = 1

5ème Arrondissement

Le Depart Cafe (Place St. Michel)

One of my favorite cafes in Paris is the Le Depart St. Michel just on the left bank at the St. Michel Metro stop. This friendly and convenient cafe has good food and cold beer and is not a bad place to sit and hang out day or night. For the toilet, you must go down a spiral staircase. The bathroom has two stalls and the typical urinals and sink area. Fairly clean and normal. Just don't mind the window in the door that lets the female patrons check out what's going on as they pass by on the way to their bathroom. Stalls have full length doors and solid walls for good privacy.

User Friendliness = 3
Cleanliness = 3
Privacy = 4
Facilities = 3
Overall Rating = 3


6ème Arrondissement

7ème Arrondissement


Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is one of the world's most recognized and visited sites. You will be comforted to know that it offers clean and convenient crapping facilities with full stalls for the masses. Located just behind the East leg of the Tower, these small but well maintained toilets can be your salvation in this part of town. Be prepared to pay the nice lady up front 2.50F for admission.

User Friendliness = 3
Cleanliness = 3
Privacy = 3
Facilities = 3
Overall Rating = 3



Musée d'Orsay

This spectacular facility offers a number of good crapping opportunities. Like all famous sites in Paris, this place can get crowded and be tough in emergencies. However, skip the toilets at the main entrance (although there is nothing wrong with them) and head to the back toilets or the ones located on the upper floors. The facilities will be a little smaller, offering fewer stalls, but will likely be less crowded.

Each facility is completely different in design but all seemed normal with full doors, relative cleanliness and privacy. Some will require a bit of stair climbing to reach. Handicrapping seems to be reasonable but may be easier in the main facilities up front. There are plenty of elevators to help negotiate any stair cases for the exhibits themselves. The museum will help any who need it. One note, the toilets close 15 minutes BEFORE the museum starts to close at 5:30. Check online for exact schedules, etc.

www.musee-orsay.fr

User Friendliness = 3
Cleanliness = 3
Privacy = 3
Facilities = 3
Overall Rating = 3




Napoleon's Tomb

One of the all time crappers has ensured that his memory will not be tarnished by offering below standard crapping facilities. Located in the ticket office downstairs, these private, clean and very modern stalls and sinks would have made the Emperor proud. Napoleon's Tomb is one of the coolest things to see in Paris and you won't have to sacrifice any comfort to visit. And it's FREE (the toilets that is). Bonus: Good handicrapping access with an elevator and a nice big, wide stall.

User Friendliness = 4
Cleanliness = 4
Privacy = 4
Facilities = 4
Overall Rating = 4



Rodin Museum

Located just next to the Invalides and Napoleon's Tomb, this museum is a good, solid place to pause for a thought or two. The facilities are located in the gardens. Make sure to assume the approved position as shown left.

User Friendliness = 3
Cleanliness = 3
Privacy = 3
Facilities = 3
Overall Rating = 3

8ème Arrondissement

Planet Hollywood

Always a favorite in any city, the Paris version of this chain restaurant didn't fail to offer a nice, clean, decent crapping opportunity. Located right in the middle of the Champs Elysèe (Franklin D. Roosevelt metro stop) it couldn't be more convenient. Complete with reading material. Word of advice, don't order a margarita as the French can't make them.

User Friendliness = 3
Cleanliness = 3
Privacy = 3
Facilities = 3
Overall Rating = 3

 

9ème Arrondissement

10ème Arrondissement

11ème Arrondissement

12ème Arrondissement

13ème Arrondissement

14ème Arrondissement

15ème Arrondissement

16ème Arrondissement

17ème Arrondissement

18ème Arrondissement

Sacre Couer (Montmartre)

Sacre Couer Catherdral (Sacred Heart) is located on top of Montemartre hill and affords a spectacular view of the city of Paris below. The downside is that the toilets were closed and therefore offer no solice to the bowels. Don't count on this for crapping.

User Friendliness = 0
Cleanliness = ?
Privacy = ?
Facilities = 1
Overall Rating = 0



Elysèe Montmartre

Over a century old and still standing, this legendary venue in the heart of the Pigalle area continues to thrive! Used in the past for different kinds of entertainment including boxing matches, plays and variety shows, the Elysée has since become Paris best-loved music venue. Cult groups and well-known artists alike perform here on a regular basis, its retro-style décor making it unique. A big hit with the young, evenings such as the Elysée-Montmartre ball (with a full orchestra) or Open House (techno music) are frequently organized at the weekend. Like the other liver performance venues reviewed in the England Reviews, this place is much different before the show then during/after. Stalls are shared with the women with a seperate area for urinating (the Roman trough). Great place to see a concert but best avoided for crapping.

www.elyseemontmartre.com

User Friendliness = 1
Cleanliness = 1
Privacy = 1
Facilities = 1
Overall Rating = 1

19ème Arrondissement

20ème Arrondissement


Lyon

Le Laurencin Restaurant

This quaint little cafe on the rue Saint-Jean in Lyon offered more than adequate facilities featuring two full stalls with maximum privacy. Hidden behind a curtain in the back, have no fear of this place. Food is good too!

User Friendliness = 3
Cleanliness = 3
Privacy = 3
Facilities = 3
Overall Rating = 3


Roman Ampitheatre

Located in the Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization at the top of the ampitheatre, this clean and modern facility is a great place to go. Virtually empty, there are excellent facilities sprinkled liberally throughout this funky building built into the side of the cliff. Plenty of facilities and good handicrapping access. A welcome retreat from the hot Lyon sun.

User Friendliness = 4
Cleanliness = 4
Privacy = 4
Facilities = 4
Overall Rating = 4

Courchevel

Centered in an area containing Chamonix, Mount Blanc, Albertville, Geneva and Grenoble, this exciting ski resort town is just an hour from Lyon on the Swiss and Italian borders. Home to some Olympic events and some great skiing, there is at least one really good place to "go" when you are there.

La Normandise Restaurant

Situated at the foot of the Grangettes gondola, the Normandise restaurant has good food and is very comfortable. The toilets are unisex. The sinks are part of a big common area with four stalls (two on each side). This means that any females you are with will be watching you. Luckily, the stalls offer real walls and full doors for better privacy than first anticipated. Considering how many people are on the slopes, the facility was relatively uncrowded and stalls were easily available. The best part is that the toilets are free and the people there may not realize if you were a customer or not. The toilets were surprisingly clean considering the amount of usage (must be the Swiss influence) and handicrapping would be reasonable. A good overall place to go.

www.courchevel.com

User Friendliness = 3.5
Cleanliness = 3
Privacy = 3
Facilities = 3
Overall Rating = 3

Chamonix

Lift Station

Located at the base of Mount Blanc near the Swiss and Italian border, this famous ski town in notable for its hosting of world championship ski events. One of its famous attractions is a glacier. To reach this glacier you must take a train up the mountain. Here there is a convenient toilet facility with decent privacy and user friendliness. Cleanliness is acceptable considering its location and frequent use. Good for those times when you have to go.

www.chamonix.com

User Friendliness = 3
Cleanliness = 3
Privacy = 2.5
Facilities = 2.5
Overall Rating = 2.5

Megève

Megève

Located in the French Alps just about an hour from Lyon is an amazing little town called Megève. It is a ski village and a wonderful place to walk around for a few hours.

www.megeve.com

Chateau Chambord



Chateau Chambord

Listed by the Travel Channel as the #7 Top Castles in Europe, this gem located in the Loire Valley of central France (read middle of nowhere) is breathtaking for sure.

Built in 1547, Chambord was home to French king Louis XIV and inspiration to painter Leonardo di Vinci and writer Moliere. Nearly 2,000 men worked to build the awe-inspiring structure, which includes 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, 84 staircases and stables to accommodate 1,200 horses. One of the highlights inside is a double spiral staircase that allows two people to go up or down without crossing each other.

However, if you have to take a crap be prepared for an adventure. There are two main alternatives here. The first, illustrated in the second photo, is the pay-per-crap option. Access to this facility will cost you .30 Euros or roughly .30 cents. Paying to "go" in Europe is a common thing and quite normal, even in restaurants. We highly suggest this option despite the entrance fee as it is clean and much more user friendly. We give this one a solid 3 out of 5 for its pure accessibility since this place is really in the middle of the woods.

The second option is the facility provided inside the castle itself. Shown here in the third photo, you can plainly see this is the lesser of the two options. Housed in a uniquely European style utilitarian port o let type housing, this option is for emergencies only. On a cold day such as this one was it could be a virtual death sentence. The men's facility (on the left) is a bit drafty and not nearly as nice as the pay one. Enter and crap at your own risk. We give this one a 1 out of 5 due to the open viewing and pneumonia inducing ventilation scheme.

A third option is to use the facilities at one of the small cafes housed in the gift shops near the pay facility, but these facilities are unreliable as the shops can often be closed. Also you may be required to "be a customer".

www.chambord.org

Option #1
User Friendliness = 3
Cleanliness = 3
Privacy = 2.5
Facilities = 2.5
Overall Rating = 3

Option #2
User Friendliness = 1
Cleanliness = 1
Privacy = 1
Facilities = 1
Overall Rating = 1

Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV)

Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV)

Train à Grande Vitesse is French for very fast train. The bullet train in France is a quick and convenient way to get around the country and to crap. The facilities are similar to an airplane on this modern and sleek mode of transportation. Includes footpedals for flushing and working the sink.

User Friendliness = 3
Cleanliness = 3
Privacy = 3
Facilities = 3
Overall Rating = 3

 




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