Paris’ public toilets finally get a 21st Century facelift

A strange subject for the blog, you might think, but we believe that it could well be of interest to a lot of people visiting the city… 😉

The Paris city council has just started changing the 400 public toilets in the streets of the city for a new version: bigger, more practical, more environmentally friendly and still free to use. It will take a year for them all to be put in place, but we ‘tested’ one of the first working models out for you!

Sanisette is the French trademark name for the sort of grey tardis-like block you’ve probably seen around the streets here, and the old version wasn’t really a favourite with its old design dating from the 1980s and a level of cleanliness that left many people with gruesome stories to tell their friends back home. The new, shiny 21st Century design is down to designer Patrick Jouin, and the first thing that you’ll notice is how darn big the thing is now (so big in fact that half of the new toilets will have to be moved to fit on the pavement). They’re difficult to miss, despite the dullish colours supposed to help them ‘blend’ into the urban environment. There is however an explanation for the new size…

First of all, these new toilets are large enough to accept wheelchairs. Previously, there were only a few special ones large enough: a real pain for anyone with mobility problems. Also, the instructions on the outside are available in several languages, Braille and as audio for people with visual impairments.

And inside there’s plenty of room to move around.

There’s supposedly some background music that should greet you too, but we didn’t hear any. However, the new level of natural light is much better than the previous model (which was pretty grim) thanks to the Kubrick-style skylight.

This should help you size yourself up in the new (huge) mirror that is allegedly vandal-proof…

The colours are fairly sober with a touch of colour – green, of course – with clear indications for use, and environmental advice.

…because these new sanisettes are much more environmentally friendly. Rain water is gathered via the roof, reducing water consumption by 30%.

Another useful addition is the water fountain on the outside. Very handy when it’s hot! Paris was missing this kind of thing…

Also, all the elements used in the manufacture of the toilets can be recycled once they are no longer needed.

And don’t forget that on the side you’ll find a street map of the area, illuminated at night (just as the toilets are, making them easier to locate).

Perhaps the tourist nightmare is coming to an end then? Perhaps Paris’ public facilities are finally coming up to 21st Century standards. In any case, try them out: it’s free!

More information (in French) on the Paris city council site here.