Often, the hardest part of visiting an unfamiliar city is finding bathrooms. The usual trick is to go to a café and buy a drink as a ticket to the loo, but in Paris the drinks were so outrageously expensive that this wasn’t a sensible option. (In addition, one café we went to graciously allowed visitors to buy a drink and still slapped them with a 50 cent charge to use the toilet. My wife and I agreed afterward that the café owner should have paid us for it. Gross.)
But in the Carrousel du Louvre, where pricey stores abound and they sell chocolates for 110 euros per kilo ($50 USD per pound), we found the swankiest loo in the city. It’s so high class that I didn’t even recognize it as a bathroom at first.
Does that look like a loo to you?
Just like at a nice restaurant, you wait at the sign until an attendant waves you forward. Then you can advance to the counter to scan the price list. Yes, there is a price list, because this place — actually a for-profit business — does not just sell bathroom visits. It also sells visits to a coffee/drink/makeup area, or a breastfeeding space, or the use of a hot towel should you need one. And while you wait in line for a bathroom stall to become available, you can admire the wares on display:
Yes, you can buy colored toilet paper, or designer dispensers, and any number of other upscale bathroom accessories. Their web site has even more, including a toilet paper dispenser that doubles as an iPod charger/player with four speakers (a steal at 119 euros).
But wait, there’s more. They have attendants busily disinfecting every stall after every use, including wiping down the seat and door handles. Only after the stall is deemed worthy is the next person in line waved forward. Once you enter your stall, you can admire its tasteful lighting and décor, which apparently varies from stall to stall.
It goes without saying that the sink area is spotlessly clean, plus they have those wonderful Dyson Air Blade dryers that make you feel like you’re putting your hands into a wind tunnel. I am just geeky enough to find these dryers totally fun. (What is the wind velocity in those things??)
I came out of there with very clean hands and a smile on my face. It was the best euro I spent in Paris. Oh, and the colored toilet paper? A Portuguese product (by Renova). I was proud.