27.5.08

The only one left

This is the only one left of this model. The first public street urinals appeared in Paris around 1840. There were some 1200 of them around 1930. They were called “vespasiennes” in “honour” of the Roman emperor Vespasian (9-79) who imposed tax on the public urinals. From him and those days comes also the expression that “money doesn’t stink” (Pecunia non olet).

This one can thus still be found just outside the wall of the Santé Prison. “Santé” means “health” in French, but the prison name comes from the street which leads to a hospital (Sainte Anne). The prison dates from 1867 and is also the only one left inside the Paris borders. I’m ready to make some efforts for my posts, but I didn’t enter neither the urinal, nor the prison. Today the “vespasiennes” have been replaced by “sanisettes”, self cleaning, unisex toilets. There are some 400 of them in Paris. All public lavatories in Paris are nowadays free of charge. Nicer, free of charge and public toilets can be found here and there, e.g. in the metro station “Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre”. (Thanks Alain - who gave me the hint when we met during the weekend.) This station is also remarkable for its particular entrance decoration, on which I made a post last year. The nicest public toilet in Paris can however be found close to the Madeleine Church. It was created in 1905, is classified as a historical monument and considered as (one of) the most beautiful public toilet(s) in the world. You can see more details on my post from last year. You can of course also use the toilets of different restaurants and bars, but the quality is varying. My recommendation is to just walk in to one of the better hotels. They have in general excellent rest rooms, also free of charge.

40 comments:

Therese said...

Au cas ou, il y a un guide de tous les WC du monde sur Internet... pour se renseigner visuellement avant d'y aller...
Rien a voir pourtant avec votre premiere photo qui vaut son pesant d'or!
Merci d'etre passe Peter. Je me suis mal exprimee dans les commentaires. En ce qui concerne le quizz, la solution propre au collage n'a pas encore ete donnee. C'est le concept lui-meme qui fait gagner chacun.

Cuckoo said...

You never fail to amaze me thru your posts !!!

Keep it up.

This is one thing we lack in India. Though one can find many public toilets but they are all paid and even then not at all comparable to the standards of other countries.

Cuckoo

Neva said...

I love your restroom! and the urinals....can't say that I noticed them when I was there and kinda glad I missed them! I remember your post from last year.....nice as well.

LeenaM said...

Good Tuesday morning! sun is shining and also in Joensuu bird cherries are starting to bloom.Mosquitoes are still away, so, this a best time of a year now :)
It`s an important object in your post
today and well done as usual.

alice said...

Un post pratique! Je note ces bonnes adresses!

Olivier said...

alors là, je suis bluffé (une fois de plus) je pensais pas qu'il restait des vespasiennes a Paris. Elle avait un superbe design (ok pas très propre, et pas très hygiénique). C'est un sujet très important, j'étais longtemps modérateur dans un grand forum sur NYC, et l'une des questions qui revenaient souvent, était sur où trouver des toilettes propres et pas dangereuses quand on se balader dans NYC ;o).

Bettina said...

What a great subject you chose for todays post, LOL :)

I was once stuck in a sanisette, but finally the door opened and I came out in freedom.
I have also been to the one by the Madeleine Church, and it IS beautiful, and you almost don't want to leave there again, because there's so much to watch.

hpy said...

D'autres villes pourraient, non, devraient suivre l'exemple, et installer des toilettes gratuites un peu partout. C'est souvent un problème quand on se promène dans un endroit méconnu le dimanche quand tous les bistrots sont fermés.

delphinium said...

Ah il me fait bien rire ton post. Aller aux toilettes, ce n'est finalement pas si simple quand on veut faire les choses bien et proprement. En général je m'arrête dans les restaurants dans lesquels je mange mais c'est vrai que l'hygiène laisse parfois à désirer et je suis désolée pour tous les turcs qui passent te voir ici mais je déteste cordialement les toilettes turques. :-)
A bon entendeur salut et bises

Nathalie said...

Merci de ton passage à Avignon ce matin. Si un jour tu veux louer une pénichette sur les canaux, préviens-moi.

Excellent sujet de post chez toi aujourd'hui - question cruciale quand on visite une ville et Paris laisse encore à désirer de ce côté la...

L'idée d'aller dans les grands hotels est excellente, j'ai pratiqué cette technique à Sydney et c'est du tonnerre !

Olivier said...

"mais je déteste cordialement les toilettes turques" je suis tout a fait d'accord avec miss Delphinium, je propose que l'on interdise et que l'on extermine toutes les toilettes a la turque

claude said...

Je les ai bien connues ces Vespasiennes et je l'ai trouve plus belles que les toilettes-cabines nouvelles. Le problème des vespasiennes, c'est que c'était que pour les Messieurs !

Ex-Shammickite said...

I first saw a “vespasienne” when I was a teenage exchange student living with a French family in Monville, a suburb of Rouen. I was fascinated with the fact that the men would buy a loaf of bread from the boulangerie, then go into the loo with the bread under their arm, fait pipi, and then just walk home!!!! Of course, the family I was staying with did not have a flush toilet in the house at all.... we had to go to the courtyard at the back of the house, and the man came to empty the toilet once a week!
I hope the last “vespasienne” will be preserved in a museum somewhere, to show present and future generations what life used to be!

hpy said...

Delphinium a bu du rouge a midi. Elle est pété!

SusuPetal said...

Every day information! Great! For people in need, this is the kind of information one needs.

Most of the modern public WC's seem very complicated -you don't know if you're stepping into a space craft or disco.

richard said...

Well now I have a new must-see list for my next visit. Or maybe that is a must-pee list....

Looks like someone took a machine gun to the last remaining original

Chuckeroon said...

Oh, Peter! How long was this masterpiece in the making? I'm claiming "inspirational rights", but you do indeed get the whole of the biscuit as a full reward.

Isn't that ancient "Vespasien" a total stunner.........it MUST be preserved for ever. Just think who has used it over the years.

delicium said...

hpy est une rapporteuse. :-)

Sonia A. Mascaro said...

A very informative post, Peter, with great photos too! I remember your two post from last year very well. You did a good job here!

PS: Thanks for your comment on "slum post". The contrast is awful and so unfair...I never, never could buy such apartment, so near to that slum. How some people could enjoy this pool looking to so much poverty all around? No way!

ALAIN said...

Très documenté ton message. Bien sur, il n'y a pas encore de toilettes sèches, mais cela viendra !
Une bonne adresse : les mairies d'arrondissements. Je recommande le V° arrondissement : les toilettes de Tibéri avec vue sur le Panthéon !

lyliane said...

C'est l'air de Paris aujourd'hui! Les futurs tolards devaient aller soulager leur conscience avant de rentrer en prison.
Je n'ai jamais essayé les toilettes publiques, j'ai peur d'y rester enfermée, ou d'y recevoir la douche avant d'y être sortie, je préfère comme toi celles des beaux hôtels (j'ai toujours aimé le chic!)

Peter said...

therese:
C'est vrai, mon "guide" est un peu limité!

cuckoo:
Toilets is a problem more or less everywhere ... and I imagine even worse for ladies!

neva:
I guess you love the old urinal from the outside only? :-)

Peter said...

leenam:
Could you make a similar subject from Joensuu? :-)

alice:
Certaines addresses sont bonnes, pas toutes!

olivier:
Tu t'en occupes de bp des choses... modérateur sur les urinoirs à NYC!!!

Peter said...

bettina:
I'm happy you found the Madeleine one! Not so many have found it, but it's really worth visiting, even just for visiting!

hpy:
... et si en plus il n y a pas des grands hôtels!

delphinium:
Pour les toilettes turques, je suis parfaitement d'accord! Encore qu'avec une jupe ou un kilt...

Peter said...

nathalie:
Je pense à toi si je veux louer une péniche coté Avignon, c'est sur!
On est d'accord pour le grands hôtels!

olivier:
Welcome to the club!

claude:
... et qu'est qu'il faisait les dames?

Peter said...

ex-shammickite:
To keep some old things is defintiely nice, but in this area, I'm happy that some more modern facilities are available! I trust that the "only one" will remain. It has been there already for years as the "only one"!

hpy:
Tu as bien fait de me le dire!

susupetal:
There is always the fear the the "self cleaning" will start a bit early!

Peter said...

richard:
"Must-pee"! Hahaha!! Very good!

chuckeroon:
I know that there is a public toilet around Glasgow in competition about the "world's nicest public toilet"!
Yes, I hope and guess that it will be preserved!

delicium:
Tu ne le savait pas? Attention!!

Peter said...

sonia:
I'm impressed by your memory!

I appreciate your view on the slum matter!

alain:
Merci pour cette info! Je vais tester les mairies! Pour les toilettes sèches, il faudrait voir!

lyliane:
Donc: Ritz, Crillon...!

Ming the Merciless said...

How interesting!! Glad to see a relic from the past still in Paris.

I love the underground toilets near Madeleine Church.

hpy said...

Zut et re-zut, Delphinium a vu que j'ai cafté.

Cergie said...

J'adore l'entrée de métro, faut qu'Alain me la montre à moi zaussi
T'aurais du me demander la photo de toi dans les vespasiennes de Fécamp, je l'aurais recherchée, maintenant c'est trop tard.
A SF les rest rooms sont partout et gratuits et ils sont pas secs, on peut se laver les mains (en essayant de pas gâcher l'eau ni le papier)

Cergie said...

Je suis bien sûr allée honorer les rest rooms de la City Hall de SF

April said...

Good idea of Therese to make a world-wide toilet guide ;-) Important places when you are around in a city, especially for women. I also prefer the restrooms in hotels.
Very interesting and almost nostalgic your photo of the old urinal. I remember having seen many of them when I was in Paris, being 20 years or so. And I can remember how we giggled ...

Mona said...

EWWW! We badly need some public toilets in India. We have next to none!

Maxime said...

Elles sont sympathique, ces vieilles vespasiennes, mais où est-ce que l'on glisse la pièce ?

Maxime said...

Oh, et à propos d'Henry Miller, je me souviens avoir lu dans un de ses livres que c'est ce qui lui a le plus manqué lorsqu'il est rentré à New York après son séjour à Paris, et ce qui lui faisait dire que les Français étaient plus civilisés que les Américains.

Peter said...

ming:
So you know the Madeleine toilets also! Good!!

hpy:
Il faut mettre ce genre d'info sur mail, non sur le blog!

cergie:
Il faur relire le post! :-) J'ai déjà fait un post l'année dernière sur l'entréé du métro! Les toiletes ... c'est Alain!

J'aimerai bien voir la photo de Fécamp, mais non sur ton blog!

Peter said...

april:
I imagine that you just watched the urinals from the exterior?

mona:
... but you have hotels!

maxime:
C'est gratuit!
Heny M n'a rien vu d'autre qui disitnguait les français des américains? :-)

ruth said...

I was never allowed to just walk into the Ritz and use the bathroom! Were you?? I did use the InterContinental's, very nice.

And back in my study abroad days, I remember using one of those open ones on the sidewalk. I was horrified! Then decades later I began to think it was a figment of my imagination!

ruth said...

Well, now I look at that one again, I don't think it was a "urinal" I used . . . Maybe a more thorough version, with a seat?