Versailles is overwhelming. Not because of its grandeur— because of its tourists. The place is exhausting due to the human traffic conjesting the entirety of its corridors. I guess I’m glad I saw the Hall of Mirrors and the Hercules Drawing room, but I enjoyed the gardens much more.
Saying Versaille has a backyard is like saying Hong Kong has a nearby mainland. The most dominant feature is a huge, gorgeous canal. I soaked my feet in the gigantic water-filled plus sign for half an hour, absorbing the grandeur. Rows of trees neatly outline the inland waterway. They’re neatly manicured into rectangular shapes. It seems as though you’re in a towering hedge maze, the lawn of a god.
After several hours of wandering the grounds of Versailles, I headed towards the train station. The Chateau was closed for the evening, which meant I had to find a bathroom elsewhere. Which is terribly difficult in France. You can spend hours wandering around Paris just looking for a place to pee.
If you ask someone in a store, “Is there a toilet here?” they get angry that you would even consider using their bathroom without first buying a twenty-two dollar hot dog. Even if you purchase the hot dog, they act as if using their bathroom is a huge inconvenience to them, and you’re a jerk for not holding it in until you return to your home country.
Even MacDonald’s is hard to pee in. They have combinations on the doors accessible only by the numbers on a receipt, or have a slot for coins on the lock. It’s like there are three bathrooms in the whole nation.
I elected to use the pay toilet at the Versailles train station. I plinked in fifty cents and stepped into the large box. The floor was slick and wet. A faucet was set up at eye level across from the toilet, constantly spraying water, so that in order to sit down I had to contend with water constantly splashing me in the face.
Also, Parisian pay toilets are apparently self-cleaning. I did not know this. Nor did I know that they are on a timer, and that the timers sometimes malfunction. So as I was squatting there, trying to keep the sink water out of my eyes and not touch the steel shit can, the door started rattling and the whole room turned into a car wash.
“AAAAAGGGHHH!!!” I screamed, as jets of water shot out of the floor, spraying my legs and feet. Fragments of confused, choice words tumbled out of me as an onslaught of water pummeled me from the wall. I burst out of the pay toilet with jets gushing behind me, pulling my pants up as I careened into the station.
That’s the last notable thing that happened to me in France.
Andrew Heaton is a writer and standup comedian in New York City. If this post made you laugh or think, kindly "like" it on Facebook.