Traveling can be difficult: not speaking the language, getting lost in the numerous streets, facing a closed museum… Even if you plan your trip’s every little detail, there will always be an unexpected problem that will force you to change plans. However, there is one problem that every traveler knows and fears most of all: not being able to find a free bathroom when you desperately need one. If you’re traveling with kids, you definitely know what I’m talking about!
Moreover, finding toilets and realizing at the last moment that you have to pay to use them is the worst surprise. If you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend more than you already have, you’re probably on the hunt for free bathrooms everywhere you go! You’ll discover that in Paris there are actually a lot of ways to go to the bathroom freely, but be warned: you have to be okay with the sometimes not-so-clean toilets and with the idea of pushing closed doors… So, if you’re planning a trip to Paris, this article will give you all my insider’s tips on how and where to find a free bathroom in Paris!
The first option to go to the toilets in Paris is to find one of the public bathrooms, called sanisettes. You can find them all over the streets of Paris, particularly in the touristy areas such as the 1st and 4th district. In general, there is one or two next to every big landmark of Paris (the Eiffel Tower, the Cathedral Notre-Dame, the Louvre museum…). You just have to spot a street sign that gives the directions to the bathroom. You can also see the entire map of these bathrooms on -> this link.
The sanisettes have an automated washing system that activates after each person, so they are quite clean (in theory). Most of them (especially those around the big landmarks) are open 24h a day, but some of them open at 6 am and close at 1 am or 10 pm. However, during the day, you might have to wait in line for a moment.
Tip: in every Parisian park or garden, you’ll be able to find a public bathroom so don’t hesitate when you see some green spaces! If you happen to be in a neighborhood without any sanisettes or you just can’t find them, here are some other ways to find free bathrooms.
Big malls in Paris are free to access and they all have free public bathrooms: it’s the perfect place to go! They are usually pretty large and clean, so don’t hesitate! Here’s a little list of the malls you can go to find free toilets:
- Galleries Lafayette: one of the most famous malls in Paris; it’s located next to the Garnier Opera House, in front of the metro station Chaussée d’Antin Lafayette or Auber.
- Le Bon Marché: located in the 7th district, just near the metro station Sèvres-Babylone not far from the Luxembourg garden.
- Printemps: a famous chain of malls; you can find one just near the metro station Nation in the 20th district, one next to the metro station Couronnes in the 11thdistrict, one next to the metro station Place d’Italie in the 13th district, and one near the Louvre, in the 1st district.
- BHV Marais: located in the 4th district, next to the metro station Hotel de Ville in Rivoli street; it’s not far from Notre-Dame.
- Les Halles: located in the metro station Les Halles next to Châtelet, in the 1st district, you can access the mall directly from the metro station or outside.
Here’s a pretty unknown option. In some of the underground parking lots in Paris, you’ll find a bathroom. However, be warned that not all of the parking lots have them so don’t wait until the last moment to try this technique you might have a bad surprise! Some of the parking lots I know that have toilets are:
- the parking lot Place Vendôme,
- the parking lot Place de la Concorde,
- a parking lot next to The Louvre or
- the parking lot near Notre-Dame.
These bathrooms won’t probably be the cleanest, but it can really be a life-saver!
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: how will I find a hospital in Paris when I need a bathroom? I’ll agree that hospitals can’t be found on every street, but there are 2 hospitals that are located near big Parisian monuments that you’ll maybe visit.
(Lien vers le tour Notre-Dame)
The public bathrooms in those areas are often crowded, so this is a better option.
- Hospital Hôtel-Dieu: just on your left when you’re facing Notre-Dame, on the Cité Island
- Hospital Necker: located next to the Montparnasse tower in the 15th district; from the tower, take the Maine Avenue and turn left in Vaugirard street.
Don’t be shy, enter the hospitals and look for the bathroom sign. These are public spaces so everyone has the right to enter!
Cafés, Restaurants and Bars
The last option on this list! You can try to find a bar, a restaurant or a café: they all have free bathrooms. However, some of them will ask you to buy a drink or a meal in order to use their toilets. My advice: ask politely a waiter if you can use their bathroom. They’ll let you use them a lot of the times, and if they ask you to buy something you can decline and continue your search. You should ask them in French (and with a big smile), they’ll be more willing to help you if you show that you’re doing!
The sentences you should know when asking for the bathroom:
Bonjour, est-ce que je peux utiliser vos toilettes s’il-vous-plaît? (Hello, may I use your bathroom, please?)
Tant pis (Too bad) (if they refuse)
And of course: Merci! (Thank you!)
However, this technique is more adapted for solo travelers (especially girls), the waiters won’t let you use their bathrooms if you’re a group or a family, they’re not that accommodative.
You now have all the tips you need to find a free bathroom in Paris which means you don’t have any excuses left to stay home, so pack your bags and come join us in the most beautiful city in the world!