Out and About

Le Toilette

I thought of titling this post ‘The Toilet’ a universal term in Australia; however ‘Le Toilette’ sounds so much better. The topic came to mind in the past week as I spent up to 3 hours on two occasions on a plane. It may be a few months since I last travelled on a plane however I cannot remember the announcement about Le Toilette referred to as the ‘lavatory’. I thought it sounded so old fashioned. Yes, old fashioned it is as the term ‘lavatory’ or ‘lav’ is derived from the Latin meaning to wash.

I love the fragrance of Magnolia Albertus when it flowers in our garden
I love the fragrance of Magnolia Albertus when it flowers in our garden

Following up on the issue I discovered that the ‘lavatory’ is the common term and also signage for toilets on commercial airlines around the world. So why should I be writing a post about Le Toilette. Finding one in airports without a queue can be a problem. For 3 hours on the plane (we sat on the tarmac for 30 minutes on one occasion) I noticed that most passengers were ‘holding on’ and then when disembarked all made a bee line for Le Toilette. Furthermore, I now believe this is why people like to sit in the front rows. It is so they can get out first and get to you know where. Airline lavatories do not endear themselves to sitting down and taking your time. You can never be sure how long the queue is outside, while you are doing your best to manage yourself in the small space.

My ‘one and only’ and I were pleased to find Le Toilette at the Brisbane Airport that was unoccupied. We had them all to ourselves when leaving and on the return journey. Obviously this was not near where passengers disembark or a departure gate. Everyone wants to be comfortable on their fight and airlines are making this easier for us as the low cost airlines do not give away any free drinks. If you do not think ahead you either get dehydrated or pay to quench your thirst. Also when in a low humidity environment you are at risk of catching a respiratory virus. This is what happened to me last year on a return trip from Adelaide. I was unwell for months. Perhaps this could have been diverted if I drank more water on the flight but then that may have meant more trips to Le Toilette.

There are other names for Le Toilette such as Powder Room. This is the term used for toilets in a private home with a sink but without a bath or shower. We have one of these in our home. But the ‘powder room’ does not seem the correct term to use for males when they are guests in our home, so I stopped using the term. Canadians are known to use the term ‘Washroom’. Americans will ask where the bathroom is. They do not want a shower or bath just Le Toilette. The military term for Le Toilette is Latrine. What is of utmost importance to me is that it is a clean Le Toilette. One toilet we used in Nice, France flushed everything once you walked out the door, walls included. Some other Le Toilettes are confusing as you either have to use your foot to flush or are self flushing via a sensor.

In the Cairns Airport there were signs on the back door of the Le Toilette as to how to behave while occupying the space. There was a big cross (X) across the squat position. This is the preferred modus operandi for Chinese people so I gather there must be a lot of Chinese tourists travelling though the Cairns Airport. Whether you are in France or Italy the term for toilet is Le Toilette however with a different intonation. Start practicing Debbie you will need to say ‘où sont les toilettes’ (where is the toilet). It will not be long until you will be looking for one in Paris.

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