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The Worst Toilet


I took this at an old cafe in Paris. If you’re worldly, you’re probably all like, “Mmmbut zees toilets are EVreeWHERE, you buFOON!” Then you should start hitting yourself in the face because it’s not my fault I had never seen one before.

This type of “Standing Deployment” waste receptacle poses several logistical problems in my estimation. Going number UN seems pretty straightforward (literally), but number DEUX seems problematic at best. Let’s run the scenarios that I’m sure will be debunked in the comments section by an angry bored person:

  1. STANDING: Your first option would be to step up on the porcelain launch pads, face away from the toilet, drop your pantaloons and empty yourself. Of course, we humans are at a disadvantage re: poop-standing as our bipedalism has rendered our rectal firing system 4F and the resultant blast would be more reminiscent of an overactive Sugar Maple belching sap in lumpy spurts down its trunk. In this instance, the pants become less of a leg covering and more of a “shit net.”
  2. SQUATTING: Ok, let’s say you decide to squat down. You damn well better have the balance of a Cirque Du Soliel tumbler lest you fall backwards and end up supine in a tray of fresh butt butter, limbs a-flail like a toppled dung beetle.
  3. SPIDER-CRAWL: Using your ninja training and insanely developed quads you leap up from the foot stands and catch yourself in perfectly lateral splits against the opposing walls with unwavering strength. From this vantage, you rain down a Mentos-in-Coke-bottle-like fountain of your poop while holding your hands in a palm-strike position and screaming “Yu-Gi-OHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

In my opinion, #3 is really the only viable option but does involve total lower nudity. Next time you’re in France and spot one of these waterless proto-toilets, see which method works best for you and report back on your results!

As a side note, posts like one are the probably the reason this blog is blocked from many of your work computers.

Image: Chris Hardwick/Nerdist

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  1. Steve Medlin says:

    Was the bar on the left? I just experienced what I think may be this exact toilet! I was trying to explain it to my wife and found this image via google. And they charge you .5 Euro to use it!!!

    Great article, nearly pissed my self…

  2. Lacy says:


    Very eloquently worded Mr. Hardwick

  3. Bob Fingerman says:

    I remember the first time I encountered one of these horrifying things, for a moment I felt better about being American. We may not be as cool and clever as most Parisians (though, as a New Yorker, I egotistically feel damned close), but goddammit, at least we know how to poop like civilized human beings. I mean merde.

  4. Keri says:

    Never had the problem with squatting being a girl and all; it is kind of second nature. Figured you could use a nice instructional video for your next trip. Keep up the funny because I need a few laughs in my life right now.

  5. Ryan says:


  6. jmundstuk says:

    Ah, yes! I remember it…well.

  7. ricardo says:

    this post caused me to laugh while in class. my teacher stopped the lesson to stare at my computer when he too laughed. he proceeded to show this post on the projector for the class so we all laughed. thank you chris hardwick for interrupting my class with hilarity.

  8. Carter says:

    I laughed so hard I had to post a comment giving thanks. Thank you sir.

  9. Spencer says:

    Ugh. I’m staying in Japan for ten months and these things are everywhere. It’s odd, considering most people just use regular toilets whenever possible. Also, no instructions for this toilet and not knowing Japanese fluently pair up for a bowel movement from hell.

  10. Pauls says:

    Surely this toilet is a gift from God compared to this?

  11. Stephen says:

    I’ve seen those and they suck to use! They’re all over Europe. The worst are the ones you have to put coins in to use.

  12. Scott J says:

    When we lived overseas (my dad was Air Force), we did quite a bit of traveling. So when I came across this at about the age of 6, I came back out to my mom saying, “I don’t know what to do!” Of course, that turned into quite the argument, my mom ascertaining that at the age of six I was fully knowledgeable of how to complete the toilet routine. “NO! I DON’T KNOW!” So she walked in, saw, and was just as lost as I was. One of the funniest travel experiences ever. Needless to say, we looked for a standard water closet.

  13. @DerJester says:

    I was worried I was the only person horrified by these when I was in France. It was a total crap shoot (pun slightly intended) on whether you’d get one of these, or your standard HUMAN toilet. While I was in France we’d pub crawl spending very little time at the pubs that employed these and make sure we were properly evacuated at the pubs with HUMAN waste disposal.

  14. Tib says:

    Seen this in Italy as well — but it was 500 times less clean (and that is no exaggeration.) I was desperate enough to use it.

  15. Sean Storrs says:

    A wheelchair is my main mode of transportation and fortunately I have enough mobility where sitting in it is not my only option. When I’m not out and about, I park the chair in my living room, hop out and crawl on the floor.

    I have done a fair bit of traveling overseas and without a doubt restroom logistics is the biggest issue I have to contend with. Mainly, what has posed most of the challenges is the configuration of a hotel’s bathtub or shower. In the UK for example, I had to contend with very high, very narrow tub and though I did eventually figure out how to get in and out of it, those particular skills took some time to master.

    If I’m ever faced with the prospect of using a Parisian toilet, it seems as though the second scenario you posed would be my best option but even then I could definitely see other logistical issues cropping up.

    On the other side of the spectrum, I was in Milan, Italy recently and the hotel bathroom there was equipped with a bidet. After looking up instructions, I wasn’t sure I had enough sense of balance to use it without some freak bidet-related accident befalling me.

    For the record, this is the worst toilet I’ve ever seen:

  16. PoeNevermore says:

    Probably best and safer to just do number DEUX outside in the street in a backalley like the good ol’ days.

  17. Will says:

    hindsight lesson of “Time Lapse Shoe Art”: you can do anything you want with a few short hours.

  18. I was thinking about going to France at some time in the future, but seeing a toilet like this kind of makes me wonder if French people are human. I know my last name has french written all over it, but even for me this “Shitting in a hole in the ground” thing is just not a good idea. I see problems if you are abroad. Most of the time while traveling your bowels can get a littler watery and well explosive poops in one of these bathrooms = hazmat suit. Where is the toilet paper? Perhaps there were three sea shells on a shelf someplace out of the photo, that would help a lot.

    Very funny post though. Keep up the great work.


  19. Deltus says:

    Now that I’ve read option #3, I’m going to train myself until I can do that every time I have to take a shit. Doesn’t matter if it’s a sit down toilet with plumbing and everything, I *will* teach myself to shit like that. Because for shitting, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not very extreme and 10 being extremely extreme, that’s an 11.

  20. Nando says:

    Looky here, it’s a how to use a squat toilet video:

    The bit of fact at the end of the video was fucking gross.

  21. Lady Tam says:

    BTW, I think this is a classic example of when one needs the UroClub. XD XD XD

  22. Lady Tam says:

    Ahhh, the good ol’ days; these are everywhere in China and the rest of southeast Asia as well.

    If you think THOSE are difficult, try it on a moving train sometime. 😉 Fun times, fun times.

  23. Ramble says:

    that’s not a big enough hole for some of the shit that comes out of me.

  24. John Gundich says:

    Holy dear lord.

    What if you have explosive diarrhea? Squatting would do NOTHING to prevent shit-shards from violating your pants. And, if you are anything like me, poo is NOT your friend…well, unless you are into German Shizer videos. In that case, this toilet is like a buffet. Enjoy…shit-eater!

  25. courtney says:

    Um, are these in the ladies restroom too (do they even have separate facilities for men and women there) because I think it would be pretty darn hard for a woman to pee in one of these. And GAH! I have a hard enough time doing the other thing away from my house so I don’t even want to think of the added pressure one of these would put on my mind.

  26. Kingdaddy says:

    Think I’d plop my turd cutter in the sink.

    Automatic bidet!

  27. Lynné says:

    Ok, if you think this is bad, try going out to the country side in China and stopping at a gas station (which are bad enough in the US) and finding a rectangular shoot in the ground that goes out the back of the building. Add the fact that it hadn’t been hosed down in a few days (i.e. no flushing mechanism). I almost threw up, but I had to go.

    P.S. I’m a girl, it makes a difference.

  28. Tim says:

    I have nightmares about a toilet in Beijing – probably was about January of 1996. On a business trip, and when I inquired about the facilities, I was led down a darkened corridor, and shown a room with no lights, and a hole in the floor. As bad as this looks, I’m going to do my damnedest to to replace the picture in my head with this one from now on…

  29. Lisa G says:

    Solution: Everyone start wearing skirts! It works for the Scots.

  30. nelson says:

    Saw these at a train station in Italy last summer, was completely perplexed. Then utterly revolted. They call this ‘civilized’? More foul than your average porta-potty.

  31. Usako Minako says:

    Wow this was a precious post… even though its pretty nasty I find myself trying to think of the best way to tackle this. It seems like it would be more for #1 rather than #2. I can just see making this into “Buy your ticket now! Take the poop-shoot challenge! Can YOU hit the bullseye? Slam dunk your torpedos! Test your skills and win a prize! You’ll have your friends saying ‘Holy crap! Man can you teach me to do that?’ in no time!”

  32. Michael says:

    I would step on the foot stands, squat down, and then brace myself by putting my hands up against the walls. Using your arms to brace yourself should keep you from falling back. It would be nice if they put some bars on each wall to grab onm to, though. Anyway, the fact that you even have to do any of that is absurd. What a ridiculous toilet.

  33. Larry says:

    I’ve used these before. We call them squatty potties. You’re supposed to squat down and keep the pants around the knees and spread your legs without falling!

  34. McCall says:

    I took a vacation to Paris about three years ago… The toilets scared the living crap out of me (pun intended) I ended up holding my shit for the week that I was there.

  35. Adventsky says:

    This Toilet Haunts Me Now The Toilet That Cant Flush ToT

  36. smapte says:

    thanks to this entry i’ve now invented a great new thing that consists of simultaneously laughing and vomiting. my life was lacking something, and apparently this was it. kudos all around.

  37. Theotokos says:

    Thanks Chris, for images that will haunt me for the rest of the day. Happy Birthday to you!

  38. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Damn it, this was incredibly difficult to read this in class without shitting myself (see what I did there?) with bouts of spewing, guttural laughter.

  39. John Stevens says:

    I’ve heard they have these in Japan as well. Truly frightening. Also: “Yu-Gi-OHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”… just hilarious!

  40. Rob says:

    Stupid France. Must be like living in the dark ages over there. Some of my American sized craps wouldn’t even fit. USA! USA! USA!

  41. texasbrian says:

    Doesn’t France have the non-squat toilet yet? Aren’t they on the Security Council, forgodsakes?

  42. jm says:

    if i was physically capible of #3, that would be my standard meathod. also, none of those seem handicap accessible. just sayin’

  43. Kaileigh says:

    OMG so flipping funny. Great post.

  44. Aaron M.K, says:

    There is actually a fourth viable option!

    4: The modified wall squat
    Drop your pants to ankles, And put your back on the wall. Slide down the wall until your knee joint had formed a perfect 90 degree angle, Be sure your pants are well out of the way and do your business.

    This also takes considerable leg strength and endurance but it’s much stealthier as you needn’t shout out “YU-GI-OOOOOOHHH!!!” as it might disturb the other patrons