I have always counted on McDonald's as my go-to location for le purposes de le toilette when I am traveling. But the McDonald's we passed the other day had le toilettes ferme and what was I supposed to do? Even in Marrakesh, Megan and I were able to use the McDonald's.
I was able to use les toilettes de McDonald's on the Champs Elysees. Nobody notices you because it is so crowded in there with the Parisians who deplore le fast food Americaine that one can slip in unnoticed, even without making a purchase, the way one does in the U.S.
But this McDonald's?
Fortunately, there is a new toilette in town. Starbucks. Le Bucks du Star (L'argent d'etoile?) avec le coffee moins cher than the coffee in the French cafe. Yes, the irony of it all. Starbucks finally being the less expensive option. Who knew that would ever happen? But when a six-ounce cafe creme costs 2.50 euros in the cafe and a venti latte costs 4.40 euros at Starbucks, well, you don't have to be a math genius to figure that one out. (Don't do the $1.30/1 euro translation or you will be too depressed. The EU is suffering a financial crises and the euro is going with it, but not until we are gone, which means we pay the gringo price for the euro.)
So I pulled into the Starbucks. Sought le toilette, pushing my way through the crowd of French people who HATE American business,* which is also so noticeable at McDonald's and at the Poulet Frite du Kentucky.
I got to the back and discovered there was a keypad next to the toilet door, along with a sign advising me that the passcode to le toilette could be found on my register receipt.
1. In the U.S., it is Starbucks' policy to let anyone use le toilette.
2. I have spent some money at Starbucks over the years. Not as much as some - it is not my daily habit but it is a place I meet my friends to hang out and when we hang out, we buy coffee to pay the table rent - but enough that I think I have earned the right to toilette at will in their stores for at least a dozen times.
3. What is the point of toiletting only to refill?
I ambled through the store, looking for someone American looking: reading a guidebook, wearing tennies. No luck. Then I saw a young woman reading a book in English. "Are you American?" I asked.
"No," she answered in English. British English. Ooops.
I tried to recover. "I'm just looking for someone to lend me the bathroom code," I explained. "I've spent enough money in this place over the years."
"Cha!" she said. "Here you go." She handed me her receipt. I got the code. I toiletted. Starbucks France, let that be a lesson to you: women will not be denied their liberte to toilette. Men can have their fraternal droit to pipi on the main drag in Aix-en-Provence; women have their sisterly right to les toilettes Starbucks.
* Disclaimer: Almost everyone we have encountered has been really nice to us. I am basing my "the French hate McDonald's" on what I have read in the newspapers over the years. But in person, they are quite lovely.