Thursday, 29 November 2012

Art Nouveau (in)convenience

My attempt to visit Paris's Art Nouveau public toilets, alongside the church of La Madeleine, was foiled as they have now been closed. Although they are listed buldings, the city sealed them off with metal gates as a cost-cutting measure.  How lucky that my visit was motivated by curiosity rather than desperation! Even more luckily, there was some compensation: the extravagant murals at the entrances are still visible.

As the tiles boast, the toilets opened in 1905. They were the first such conveniences in France, copying London facilities operating since the previous century. Inside were mahogany doors with stained glass panels, opening into generously-sized cubicles with washbasins; there was even a shoe-cleaning seat in the middle of the room. The automated 'sanisette' cubicles which replace all that luxury seem a very inferior alternative.


Stephen Barker said...

Caroline how do you find these sites? Is there an alternative guide book to Paris or the French equivalent to Pevsner?

CarolineLD said...

There are a couple of 'secret Paris'-type guidebooks. I came across these toilets in a guide to shopping arcades; and the Invisible Paris blog has lots of fascinating - and sometimes unlikely - places.

I don't know of a French equivalent to Pesner. It would be lovely if there was one!

Stephen Barker said...

Thank you, I do look at Invisible Paris blog. I enjoy very much reading your blog and seeing the sites and information that you have researched.