A Turkish “Experience” in France

I am rarely lost for words but on this occasion I was almost speechless.

To set the scene we had been walking around Lyon (France) taking numerous photographs in sub-zero temperatures and I was desperate for a hot cup of coffee and the loo (toilet). Frozen to the bone we decided to stop at a little café overlooking a square in the centre of Lyon. Mr. Piglet ordered the coffees while I went off in search of the “ladies” …errr no it was a shared toilet. As I cautiously opened the door I heard a woman in distress shouting and banging on the toilet door. She was trapped.

Before I had chance to call for reinforcements or the fire brigade the poor woman, dressed in a very expensive fur coat and matching hat, emerged from the toilet cubicle almost in tears. In my best pidgeon French I asked her if she was OK? Hearing my English accent she kept repeating how sorry she was at the state of ze toilet, that her country men were little more than peasants and she was so ashamed and embarrassed of ze “toilet”. Peering over her shoulder I caught a glimpse of “ze” offending toilet, oh no, it was literally a hole in the floor.

Turkish Loo experience in France
Hold on for dear life!

My face must have “said it all” and she launched into a further tirade against her fellow countrymen and their disgusting toilet facilities.

Yes, I could imagine exactly how she felt standing over this hole in the floor in her Gucci suede boots and expensive fur coat as it was now my turn to “hover” while clinging onto the grab rail, praying I would not drop the ends of my coat (which I was holding between my teeth) while my handbag was hooked over my head.

Never one to miss a photo opportunity I thought I would share the toilet experience with my blogging buddies.

I returned to Mr. Piglet who was sipping his hot coffee none the wiser. “Where on earth have you been?” he enquired “Taking photographs of the toilet” I replied earnestly. At this point he nearly choked on his coffee as he spluttered and looked at me in sheer disbelief…

No I have not got a toilet fetish but I did find it amusing that a café that charges €7.00 for two cups of coffee had the nerve to offer such primitive toilet facilities as a Turkish Loo to its patrons. That or I have led a very sheltered life!


87 thoughts on “A Turkish “Experience” in France

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  1. When we lived in Italy in the early 1970’s, my mother sometimes had to take me (a toddler at the time) to bathrooms like this one. It was always an adventure, her hanging on to me so I wouldn’t “fall in”!


  2. well I must say, I’m from Romania and even in a country like mine, the only places where you can find this kind of bathrooms are those underground, usually in train stations, where only poor people/gipsies go..


  3. I’ve never seen a toilet like that. It’s always interesting to learn of different ways of cultures.
    lol I can imagine how unsettling it would be to use a facility like that. But it sounds like you handle it like a champ. 🙂 big ~applause~ for taking the photos. Great thinking. 😉
    You know this post is one of the reasons I like visiting here. I never know what you’re going to post about. lol 🙂


  4. Congrats for not falling in! I have heard these kind of toilets are the norm in public places in Japan, but I, too, would be shocked to find one in Lyon. Thanks for the picture. It’s cool to see what they really look like.


  5. Haha, that reminds me of when we were in Venice. We had 5 people at our table huddled around one Coke (we had to order something to use the toilet). I actually didn’t need to use it, but I’m told it was just a hole in the middle of a room. Funniest of all, when my sister was in there, the lights shut off! She had to finish and whatnot and find her way out in the dark! It’s toilets like that that make me glad to be a man… 🙂

    PS- I love the caption you put on the photo!


    1. Hi Dillion. ONG yes, I forgot about the lights. They did actually go off and I never had a hand free to wave at them! I was trying to make jerking movements with my head, maintain the hover position whilst holding ong onto the grab rail in a vice like grip. To be honest if anyone suffers with Claustrophobia I would def give these toilets a miss!


  6. Hi Pip, I remember seeing one of those for the first time back in ’81 when I was in France, only it was much cruder. At least yours was nicely tiled and had a grab bar. I can’t believe they still build toilets that way. 🙂


  7. I’m from Indonesia and we used to with toilet like this. Even worse, I once went to the public toilet in Bromo Mountain it was just A HOLE in the ground. There wasn’t any foot step or grab rail and it was, I must say, quite challenging 😀
    Nice caption by the way!


    1. Hi capedcrusader,

      I think the worse one I used was in Canada when we went on a trip to see the glaciers. Prior to the loo visit we were given loads of mosquito repellant and warned the mosquitos were like eagles! Next trip the loo! A toilet over a large pit and a mosquito haven. You can guess where I never applied the mosquito repellant! Tourists ehhh?


  8. You’ve got to be kidding Rose. What are the elderly or infirm supposed to do? Wear diapers?!

    Hope it doesn’t catch on here. Even a port-a-pottie looks better than that contraption!

    – Papa Joe


  9. LOL! Can’t believe you took a photo!!! Have to admit though, that toilet isn’t THAT bad compared to some I have seen in France… at least there was a grab rail!

    A tip for the future: go and check out the toilet BEFORE ordering a cuppa, I always do now and if I see that it is Turkish jobby then I won’t go and we’ll move on to another cafe.


    1. Hi PiF, I did contemplate moving on elsewhere but Needs v Musts and Musts won. LOL 🙂

      I have seen worst toilets in France but I was surprised because of the location of the cafe, the price of the coffees and the clientle. The chic woman in the fur coat still makes me smile. At least I was better dressed for the contortions I had to perform. If I had slipped it would have only been a washing machine job. I don’t think her “finishing” school covered the Turkish experience.
      🙂 😉


  10. Scary! I could just picture you “hovering” whilst clinging to the grab rail, with the ends of your coat between your teeth and your handbag hooked over your head! Now that would have been some photograph!


  11. Oh My Word PIP….I would SO have taken a picture too….then gone home to have a widdle…just cannot picture myself doing the balancing act…I believe they have toilets like that in Hong Kong too!


    1. Hi Granny1947 – I was so tempted to move on but I was desperate – I mean desperate. The funny thing was the lights kept going off in the loo as I was trying to take the picture. I was praying no one would come in and catch me! Can you imagine trying to explain WHY I was taking a picture of a toilet…? LOL 🙂

      I have NEVER seen toilets like this in Portugal


  12. The lights truly were motion-activated? Oh my, what a great picture you create with words as well as camera!
    I still have trouble figuring out towel dispensers and faucets where one either wiggles a hand, steps on a button on the floor, or just stands there.
    I don’t think I would have recognized that as a loo. You’re certain that wasn’t a shower stall?


    1. Hi Jan, yes I am afraid the lights were motion-activated and as you can imagine with that level of concentration trying to stay upright…there was not much in the way fo movement for fear of falling 🙂


  13. What an interesting Week! As well as being “Freshly Pressed” and featured in “Postoftheweek” I have just been awarded “Best Offending Toilet of the Week Award” by a Taste of Garlic – in France. Life is full of surprises!


  14. I can relate to the toilet. I was born and raised in the Philippines and lets just say we didn’t have a bathroom (now we do complete with a toilet seat).
    Great post!


  15. I expected to see this in some Asian countries due to their lack of space, plumbing, and sometimes $, but I don’t expect this in France. Ewww. If I go to France, I will make sure that I check out their cafes’ WC beforehand before I sit in one. Thanks for the tip PiP!


  16. sorry love but I have to pick up on the “sheltered life” comment. When you said “hole in the floor” I thought you meant that. What you are describing is a typical toilet from The Rest of The World, which indeed can also be found occasionally in Western Europe. The squat toilet is, in fact, healthier – the position you take is less likely to promote haemorrhoids and is way better for clearing out – it more hygienic; your behind and legs don’t touch any bacteria covered porcelain and frankly they are most welcome when you have diarrhea.
    Get over it! If you’re shocked by this take yourself off to Africa, South East Asia or India – there you will find what a true hole in the floor is 😉


    1. Yes Emma, I am a slightly different age group from yourself and not as agile…:) plus I was not in Africa or South East Asia but in a very upmarket area of Lyon. If the French lady was apologetic and upset…

      “Sorry love” I am not a contortionist or an octopus, I can’t possibly see how someone dressed in artic weather gear can avoid peeing on their trousers.

      As for haemorrhoids I will take my chances 🙂 LOL and please don’t tell me men pee down the hole…they don’t. They peed against the wall which I fell against. I think we will have to agree to disagree and as they say beauty is the eye of the beholder…or not 🙂 😉
      PS the post was tongue in cheek 🙂 LOL


    2. I’m with Piglet on this one. From the gentleman’s point of view, even with the advantage of not having to squat half the time, this still looks off-putting. Might be that I was brought up with western style commodes but some-how what Piglet shows in the picture looks more like camping than civilized. Feels like I may as well just be peeing on the ground.

      After seeing the picture, I noticed the drain in the concrete floor of my laundry room. I didn’t see much difference. If I were to remove the washer and dryer and put in a sink instead of laundry tubs I still don’t think it would look inviting.

      And for that other half of the time when we men and women agree to be seated, I’m old enough that I know I couldn’t balance long enough to get the job done. I’ll admit that it would not encourage dallying, but how would I hold the newspaper while clinging to those hand rails for dear life? And once the job was done, I’m going to have to release at least one hand in search of paper. (PLEASE tell me there was paper Piglet!)

      Last point, we’re in an age where everything has to be accessible. I’m not sure how someone in a wheelchair or missing a limb would fair in this world.

      So “bottom” line, there may be all sorts of good reasons for the squat-box. And it may be popular in the rest of the world. But I’m gonna stick with good old fashioned porcelain thank you. I’ll even settle for the cold walk to the out-house as long as there’s a seat once I’m there.

      Thanks for chipping in. I’m glad to hear that this wasn’t a “Candid Camera” stunt. But I’m still going for the gold. 🙂

      – Papa Joe


  17. I Piglet, Until the 80 there were some like that here is Portugal as well…but they were allways for man. my surprise was when I was in Rome in Last April and i have found one just like this in one of the main Train stations of Rome! 🙂 The station is Called Roma Viterbo!


  18. Hey Piglet in P.
    I can’t believe that the WC’s in France still have that horrible excuse for a toilet. In 1948 and 1950 I spent the summer in La Ciota, just outside of Marseilles, a dozen or kilometers. I was appalled by the contraption then, and now 63 years later, it’s just, and even more appalling.

    I have been back to France for short visits in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and when I saw your post I died laughing. The absolute worst experience you can have is when someone with diarrhea or some other stomach ailment precedes you in the “Closet!” Even my father, a died in the wool Degaulite and Frenchman, had nothing complimentary to say about that “outhouse.”

    The ugly contraption saves space; that’s about all you can say for it!
    Thanks for the laugh…Take care, Charlie


  19. I’m not sure I’d like to try it out but I do think it would make an excellent dog washing cubicle! No need to struggle a wriggling dog up and into the bath, just hose them down in a handy doggy shower!


  20. Aw PiP, this made me laugh, I really don’t know what I would do if I came across a toilet like this, the image I have of myself would be almost as amusing if I was able to even use it. Picture a very large lady, unable to bend knees or use hands properly due to arthritis who only wears trousers. If I got down there I’d never get up, mind you I would probably fall over just from laughing so much when I tried. Maybe I aught to keep one of the little card peemates that the youngsters take on music festivals when they are camping. Now that’s another story.. Brilliant post. M


  21. Hi Wordangell…some of the comments people have left are so funny they made me laugh!! IT was the lady in the fur coat that made me laugh…plus when you “hovered” in there to long the light went out!

    I have to say I don’t want to repeat the experience anytime soon!

    PiP 🙂


  22. Hi PiP-
    Great post! I don’t have a toilet fetish either, but I seem to have a lot of pictures of them… something that started… are you ready?… In France!! Didn’t see one of these versions there, but I have seen them elsewhere. The first time in Perú and it was such a shock and disgustingly dirty that I decided I could wait–for as long as it took–to find something, shall we say, er, more familiar!


  23. Well, hmmm. I can certainly understand the outrage of a well-heeled woman in Lyon where a Turkish toilet would be unexpected, but I have to be honest: they are unfairly maligned! When I lived in Turkey, I came to prefer them over what we would consider a ‘normal’ toilet. In less-than-sanitary facilities, those floor toilets allowed us to be in and out with minimal contact. In fact, the ‘normal’ toilets were often so unpleasant that many of us female expats learned to pee standing up, just to avoid having to sit on the seats.

    I wouldn’t want one in my own home and it would surprise me to see one outside of Turkey or Eastern Europe, but I just don’t have the negative associations with it than many seem to have.

    (Just to be clear, this is not a criticism of the post! I thought it was well done 🙂 )


    1. Hi limr,
      No don’t worry I have not taken your comment as a critisim it would be a jolly boring world if we all agreed!
      The thing is re the Turkish Loo I had to hold onto the handles so I did not lose my balance; thees must have been covered with germs. I never sit on public loo seats, but take the hover position 🙂

      I’ve not been to Tureey yet, but I least know what to expect!


      1. To be fair, there are plenty of clean, “normal” toilets in Turkey and the floor toilets aren’t as common as they used to be. But it is good to be prepared for them. And if I’m remembering correctly, they didn’t always have railings and were often larger than the one you pictured – the stall, I mean, not the toilet itself.

        Oh, and always carry a packet of tissues with you in Turkey. Toilet paper is not always a given!


  24. This cracked me up 😆

    As a farmers duaghter who spent many years squatting in the bush, asian toilets never bother me. However, a girlfriend of mine who came to Japan with me just could not cope and we had to find Western-style toilets for her.

    We get so many Asian tourists here, we are now installing Asian toilets for the tourists in particular tourist spots.

    They aren’t primitive – just not our style! 🙂


  25. How funny, Piglet.

    When I went to Petra a couple of years ago, this type of toilet greeted me. I had things in my hands and am not so nimble either. I prayed for dear life that I would not fall because not only was the floor gross, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get up without help.

    The funny thing is that the other stall had a Western toilet. I was flabbergasted that anyone would choose that.

    I was so icked out by the experience that I forgot to take a photo. So glad that you did.


  26. First time I ever encountered a toilet like this was also in France: in a camp site near Biarritz.
    I was young and my first thought was that someone had nicked the loo!.
    I went back to mention this to my hosts and they laughed til they cried.
    Dumb pommie!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Funny thing, when we went ‘home’ my hosts had a very modern house with all mod cons.
        Strange they would tolerate something like this.
        As the English say, None so queer as folk’
        Have a great weekend.
        Let’s hope Sporting do all right tonight in the Football.:)


  27. Luckily up in Normandy there are not too many of these delightful creations left now … save for the one at the beach and the ones at the basis motorway rest areas … which I have to say I am muchly relieved about. In my younger days I had great bladder control but advancing age and 2 children means when I gotta go I gotta go and heaven help me if the only loo around is a hole in the floor!


  28. Reminds me of the ones in Hong Kong! I learnt rucksacks are always better than handbags when using one of these as there are never any hooks either.


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