Finding a restroom in Paris when you need to go can be tricky. Unlike in the United States, you can’t just walk into any place in Paris and use the restrooms. Restrooms are reserved for patrons and are sometimes hidden in the back of the establishment or down in a basement.
Luckily, there are a few places where you can use the restrooms for free.
1.) Department stores: This is the one store you can walk into and use the restroom without buying anything. Just like department stores in the United States, they are packed with people so no one will notice if you go in to just use the toilets. If you happen to be at Galeries Lafayette, be sure to visit the rooftop to see a wonderful view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower.
2.) Public stand alone toilets (sanisettes): Located throughout the city, these public facilities are self-cleaning and for the most part free. They are also simple to use. You push the button to open the door. Once in, the door automatically closes, you do your business and then when you are finished, you open the door. The door will then close again and begin its cleaning cycle. You have 15 minutes to do your business. The biggest issue with these public toilets is that they can be out of order.
3.) Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine: Where, you ask? In case you left the Eiffel Tower and didn’t stop at the somewhat hidden in plain sight restroom before venturing over to check out Trocadero, you still have a free and clean restroom option. If standing on Trocadero facing the Eiffel Tower, Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine is located on left. Look for the red and yellow striped flag on top of the building. Once through security, go straight ahead and up the stairs to the library. Restrooms will be at the top of stairs outside the library doors. There is also a little cafe on the ground floor with a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower. A perfect place to sit and rest especially if you need a place to get out of the rain.
4.) Square Jean XXIII (behind Notre Dame): In the park right behind Notre Dame is a little building that houses free public restrooms. Look for the 3 little mice statues on the roof. My travel companion reported that the restrooms were clean but the smell…not so much…but sometimes, you just got to go! The best thing about this place is it is conveniently located in the center of Paris.
Now you can tour around Paris worry free about where to go when you need to go!
Also part of the monthly #AllAboutFrance hosted by Phoebe of Lou Messugo.