Les toilettes français: press 1 for…

Posted: July 8, 2017 in Travel
Tags: , , , ,

When in France, and probably other countries, when you need to use the facilities, you ask for the toilet, not the bathroom.  And unless you use a public toilet (no guarantee as to whether you’ll really want to use it or not), you’ll need to buy something: a coffee or something to eat.

Unlike most toilets in the US, where there’s only one lever, you’ll face a choice.  If you have, as the grade school children say, gone #1, use the small part of the “button.”  There will be less water used.  In the case of #2, use the larger button.  This was on the wall, but many cases, the button is on top of the toilet.


In one of the cafes we visited, there were some excellent decorative posters on the wall,  a little something to look at while waiting for that feeling of relief.   And once you feel better, go enjoy that espresso! Just be sure to press the right button.  🙂


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  1. The toilets were such a learning experience for me when I was in Europe! I had forgotten all about the differences until reading your post. Without exception, though, every one I visited was much cleaner than the public restrooms here. Another thing I learned about was having to pay to use some of them that weren’t associated with eating or coffee establishments, and tipping the attendant.

    • I remember having to pay a/o tip the attendant at the Paris train station, but since then, I haven’t come across that. The public toilets really vary. The worst toilets (when I visited in the 70’s) were the ones that were just one hole in the floor and, as you’d expect, that area where you had to stand wasn’t always very clean. 😦

  2. There is one local chain restaurant that has installed this type of button. In the long run, I’m guessing it is good for the environment. 🙂

    • The #1 button uses less water, I think, and I know someone here who has similar buttons on their toilets. I think it’s a good idea, too, but they’re not common in the US as they are in Europe.


  3. Dan Antion says:

    I think these toilet options are becoming more common. Lots of the toilets available today in stores (to buy, not use) include these options. It’s amazing that such a common thing, I mean we all… is so different from place to place.

    • Although we’re in a rental and haven’t shopped for a toilet ever, I think you’re right. There are also toilets that use much less water and both that and this option are good overall.


      • Dan Antion says:

        Although, I read that in Germany, they have reduced water usage so much that they have to add fresh water to the sewage system to keep it functioning properly. Still, I guess that’s better.

      • Maybe they can find something in between, but it seems adding water would be better.

  4. WOW … I would have said bathroom. Thanks for the good info. Wouldn’t wanto to have to dance around until I was understood. LOL … my hubby just put in a new commode in our bathroom and it has those 2 buttons on top. It’s supposedly a water savor. Progress … at least we don’t have to use outhouses.
    Iz 😎

    • Yes, progress, Issy. I think the two-button idea is a good one and I imagine eventually that will be the standard. Progress indeed, but there are always those port-a-potties. 🙂


      • UGH … no please. Port – o – Potties were what they had/have at art shows. I couldn’t bring myself to use them. The horror in there was too much. Eventually, we puechased a motorhome to travel to the shows and I felt like a princess to be able to use my own facilities. YIKES … I hadn’r realized how traumatized I was. LOLOL

  5. joey says:

    Great posters, I agree. Retro things always appeal to me.
    The Mister put the new sort of toilet in our big bathroom. Up for #1, down for #2. It does save water and we’re pleased with it 🙂

    • Lots of fun retro things where we were. When we have our own house, rather than renting, I hope that we can have this sort of button, too. Saving water is always good.


  6. Tina Schell says:

    🙂 as always a humorous slant on your post Janet. I see more and more of the 2-level flushes here in the states. Personally the smaller flush is a bit of a waste IMHO. Just sayin’

  7. I’ve always wanted a bidet. I suppose that would use too much water, but you’d be really clean when finished with your toilette. 🙂

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