Ode to Madame Pipi

220px-Madame_PipiIn honor of World Toilet Day, I am dedicating this post to that beloved institution of French life, Madame Pipi. Also known as la dame pipi, it is a mystery as to why this job is invariably held by a woman.

Public toilets, especially clean ones, are much sought after in France, nowhere more so than in cities like Paris. And certainly by no one more than yours truly. Given my distrust of la Sanisette, I have only the greatest appreciation for the important job of the toilet attendant. Unfortunately, she is a dying breed as automation increasingly takes over.

Ode to Madame Pipi

Madame Pipi is always there

Behind the door, below the stair

Always faithful to her post

You’ll find her where you need her most

Her job’s to see that you do yours

While staying safe and clean, of course!

She mops the floors and puts out paper

Sprays the air with fragrant vapor

She takes your coin, and in you go

Do your business, water flows

You wash your hands, prepare to leave

As Dame Pipi rolls up her sleeves

She scrubs the toilet with her brush

Makes sure that none forgot to flush

If you need supplies, she’ll help you out

Hygienically yours, that dame’s got clout!

So next time you have an urgent need

Remember, she’s a dying breed

Be sure to thank her as you go:

Merci, Madame Pipi, bravo!

 

Go ahead, take the plunge – leave a comment!

22 comments

  1. davidprosser · November 20, 2014

    And in the gents Monsieur Pipi non?
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

    • MELewis · November 20, 2014

      Interestingly, the French don’t seem to worry about gender much in the toilet department – Dame Pipi often serves both sides. In the modern ones, there’s a common entrance with separate sides for men and women. In the older ones, often ‘mixed use’ or simply different doors within the same common area. In theory, of course, there could be a Monsieur Pipi. Never seen one yet. Big bises xxx

  2. Food,Photography & France · November 20, 2014

    Cool post….not living in Paris, I’d almost forgotten Madame Pipi…then I remembered the really annoying on at Paris Montparnasse station whose job appears to be solely taking money as the lavatories were not as fragrant as I had hoped. I guess it’s not easy at a station although I have memories of a different era when it seemed to work better…

    • MELewis · November 20, 2014

      Agree. I always resented like hell paying for access to toilets that weren’t impeccable. Then I saw what the ones that were free looked like! You’d think the City of Paris PR department would improve the ones in the most touristy places for image purposes, but alas this does not seem to be a priority.

  3. L'été Indien par Supreet · November 20, 2014

    Who would appreciate clean toilets more than us in India, where even the toilet itself is not available to the majority of the rural population. Believe you me, I regulate my consumption of fluids depending upon how long/far do I have to stay away from the clean toilets identified by me!

    Madame Pipi, we salute thee, wholeheartedly!

    • MELewis · November 20, 2014

      Very good point, Supreet! World Toilet Day is no joke, despite my joking on this post. What greater cause on this planet than clean water and proper toilets for all? Thanks for commenting!

  4. L'été Indien par Supreet · November 20, 2014

    I have shared your blog on my FB wall.. hope you would approve. supreet

    • MELewis · November 20, 2014

      Of course! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. A Crooked Mile · November 20, 2014

    What a cute poem! I had no idea there was a name for these bathroom attendants–and I certainly didn’t know it was World Toilet Day. Ha!

    • MELewis · November 21, 2014

      Count on this blog for learning such fascinating and useful facts! 😉

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  7. Osyth · November 22, 2014

    Love the ode and love the odourless account of the most vital of jobs. In terms of French WCs – my favourite moment of the summer was stopping at the first Aire south of Calais with my youngest daughter … she walked in, stared at the hole in the ground and said ‘someones stolen the toilet mummy ….’ 😀

    • MELewis · November 22, 2014

      Out of the mouths of babes! Those toilets are an abomination to the female gender. I defy anyone of our ‘persuasion’ to pass water without splash marks!

      • Osyth · November 22, 2014

        You are now my number 4 daughter’s hero(eine) … she was mortified and announced the loo was a breach of human rights!

  8. Multifarious meanderings · November 30, 2014

    Excellent poem! The last Dame Pipi i saw was a man, catering for the loos at Montpellier station. He didn’t seem to be interested in much apart from shouting at tourists who hadn’t paid him their 50 cents, having used dirty loos and drying their hands on their jeans. I’m with Osyth on the Turkish loos – brrrr.

    • MELewis · December 1, 2014

      So Monsieur Pipi does exist… Hmmm, 50 cents sounds like a steal these days but if the loos are dirty, that’s a real bummer! 😉

  9. Mélanie · December 2, 2014

    @”it is a mystery as to why this job is invariably held by a woman.” – not in Malta, where I did see several “(mon)sieur pipi”…

    • MELewis · December 2, 2014

      Interesting role reversal. Maybe they consider it too ‘delicate’ a job for the women?

  10. Elyse · December 21, 2014

    I came here after seeing that you’d liked my Martian fart post. I am sorry to say, that I believe I missed World Toilet Day. As a woman with Crohn’s disease, clean toilets are important to me! I should have celebrated… When I was in Quebec City staying at the Chateau Frontenac on my honeymoon 28 years ago, there were two Monsieur Pipi’s. I was most uncomfortable. Now, having lived in Europe where bodily functions are accepted, I wouldn’t particularly mind.

    • MELewis · December 21, 2014

      Ha, ha that’s funny about the Monsieur Pipi at Chateau Frontenac – they do things a little differently in French Canada 😉 But it’s true that we are a lot less uptight about things like segregated toilets in Europe – sometimes I’m just grateful if there’s a public toilet at all!

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