Use of public toilet facilities in cafés and bars is usually reserved for customers, so you may need to buy a little something first. Bathrooms are often downstairs and can be unisex, which may mean walking by a men's urinal to reach the cubicle. Turkish-style toilets—holes in the ground with porcelain pads for your feet—are now fortunately scarce. Stand as far away as possible when you press the flushing mechanism to avoid water damage to your shoes. In certain cafés the lights will not come on in the bathroom until the cubicle door is locked. These lights work on a three-minute timer to save electricity. Simply press the button again if the lights go out. Clean public toilets are available in fast-food chains, department stores, and public parks. Paris also has 400 sanisettes, or public toilet units, located around the city; most are open from 6 am to 10 pm, but about a quarter of them remain open until 1 am, and 20 operate 24/7. They are free and generally as proper as one could expect, because they self-clean after every use. Elsewhere in the city, you may have to pay €0.50 to €1.50—irksome yes, but when you gotta go, you gotta pay.
There are restroom attendants in train and métro stations, so always bring some coins to the bathroom. Attendants in restaurants and clubs are in charge of cleaning the bathrooms and perhaps handing you a clean towel; slip some small change into the prominently placed saucer.