The lavatory's interior is an Art Nouveau gem, Source: Ville de Paris / Clement Dorval

Belle époque Paris public toilet welcomes customers again after a 12-year pause

Belle époque Paris public toilet welcomes customers again after a 12-year pause

Who said you can’t be surrounded by beauty and history when you have the urge to go?

If you find yourself on the streets of Paris and you feel the sudden need to use a restroom, the City Council of the French capital has good news for you – the Lavatory Madeleine is back in business after 12 years of being closed. And if you’ve never heard of Lavatory Madeleine, you’re in for a treat, at least as far as public toilets go.

The restroom located on the Place de la Madeleine, not far from iconic places like the Tuileries Gardens and Hotel Ritz, is itself a jewel of а belle époque urban facility. Descending under the street level when you are rushing to relieve yourself will actually feel a bit like stepping back in time.

More specifically, back to 1905, which is when the lavatory was unveiled, following the example of public restrooms that had first appeared in London. Apparently, that’s one thing that the French decided that the English are worth copying, but of course, the Parisians gave it their own flair and je-ne-sais-quoi by decorating the interior with things like stained glass, varnished mahogany and brass taps.

All in all, the public toilet is an unusual yet wonderful piece of urban heritage that Parisians can be proud of as it beautifully preserves the Art Nouveau style and aesthetic.

Yes, there’s an entry fee

Lavatory Madeleine reopened its doors on 20 February after being closed for 12 years due to renovations. Their opening was delayed due in particular to work carried out for the embellishment of the Place de la Madeleine and complex sealing problems to be resolved (the square with its glass tiles corresponding to the ceiling of the lavatory).

The toilets are open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the entrance costs two euros, but oh well, it’s all worth it.

The only downside is that it is still not accessible to people with reduced mobility due to its access by a staircase, the mosaic of which will be restored by the City in 2024.



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