I was wondering what the bathrooms are like in France, Italy etc? I have heard they are dirty and hard to find. My friend says 20 years ago they were called squat boxes. Not that I plan to have any problems but was just wondering.
Facilities will vary greatly depending on where you are at. From my experience, they are certainly not as frequently found and/or accessible as we are accustomed to in the USA. Here in the states, in most populated areas, we have a multitude of fast food restaurants, gas stations, etc. where you can often walk into and use a restroom without any obligation to purchase something. That's not the case in much of Europe. Bathrooms are often hidden in the back of an establishment and it is pretty much expected that you will purchase something (a drink, coffee, etc.) before you ask to use them. Likewise it is not uncommon to find that you must also pay to use the facility. Permanent restroom kiosks/booths are common in cities and you pay a fee to get inside the door. I've seen some very ingenious bathrooms over there that may take you a minute or two to figure out (how to get in, how to get the auto-seat-cleaner to work, how to flush, etc.). I have found that the restrooms in most restaurants/bars are very small, but usually fairly clean. In tourist areas, restrooms are viewed as a moneymaker by the owner, so there might even be a person to collect your coins as you enter.
Just a few of my potty thoughts. Next time I'll share how I locked myself in a bathroom in Rome a few years back. I had to call for help. :-)
And don't at all be surprised to find bathrooms that will be unlike anything you've ever seen in the U.S. (like you must squat over a hole in the floor). They still exist and can be found all over. But you also can find more American-style toilet bathrooms everywhere as well. The silver toilet kiosks that you will find in places like Paris work great, and aren't hard to figure out. Just be prepared - you aren't in America anymore.
We've traveled the globe six months per year the past five years from China, Africa, Cape Horn, Egypt, Australia, Tahiti, Greece , SIBERIA. yada yada yada, have also authored two travel guides and publish a quarterly travel newsletter.
You did say FRANCE and ITALY. Stick with DFWGUY62's savvy common sense advice. Do NOT expect to see holes in floors outside of very third world countries, like on our train from Nairobi to Mombassa!
Perhaps, carry a small pack of kleenex for those bathrooms that AS HERE sometimes are out of the needed toilet paper. As noted, public restrooms, AS HERE, are all too rare except the kool ones in Paris. We use RESTAURANT rest rooms. Buy that coke, coffee or Perrier and voila RESTROOM that will be usable and usually but not always giood or better on the clean scale. Enter any crowded restaurant with large contingent eating at outdoor tables and they can NOT determine you are not a customer so never a hassle. Above all NOT TO WORRY.
I traveled around Italy for 18 days last fall and bathrooms were not an issue. Some were a little harder to find and more interesting than others but not a problem and we did not have to pay anywhere.
We did usually purchase a cup of coffee to use some. We went frequently, if we were in a public place that had restrooms, we used them. I went way more often than I would at home but did not want to have to find one in a hurry.
Some people have suggested McDonald's but we never did that. I don't go in McD's at home so why would I in Rome or Florence? I don't do fast food.
I always carry individually wrapped hand wipes with me and Wal Mart sells a cute roll of travel toilet paper, convenient size.
Funny thing, I was just reading my Foder's book on Rome today. What I found regarding bathrooms was interesting.
Toilets - men/women - gabinetti- uomini/donne
" You will find public toilets at railway stations and in larger museums, but otherwise they are few and far between. There are toilets in Piazza San Pietro, either side of the square, and others at the Colosseo."
"In other parts of Rome you will need to use the toilet in a bar or cafe. Although, they are obliged to let you use their facilities, staff prefer you to buy something."
"Facilities can be basic, to say the least. Toilet paper may or may not be provided, and sometimes there is only one toilet for both men and women. In some places there will be a dish for gratuities - you should tip around 25 c. Where separate facilities exist, make sure you recognize the difference between signori (men) and signore (women)."
PS I always carry a small travel size roll of TP with me when I travel outside of the country and keep a roll in my car at home.
Carnival Fantasy (15 Member Family Cruise)
Hey they can't be anyworse than Malaysia :-) They truly were squat boxes ! No all kidding aside I would say it's much like the US. Some are good and some are bad. If you are walking by a hotel I would run in and use that one if that's allowed