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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Oh Mon Dieu! Where's the loo!?

This is a slightly re-worked version of part of a private holiday journal I wrote back in September 2008 after a fabulous ten day holiday in Bordeaux. It is important that you know that my tummy can be a bit delicate sometimes, particularly where fibre is concerned. It sometimes leads to a sudden urge to visit the loo and when you are in a strange land and not familiar with the proximity of any public loos, things can seem twice as dire. Here is such an event. Go on have a laugh.


Café Utopia is a café cum cinema in Bordeaux and one of my fave haunts. I often eat there and as this story unfolds I had already had a lunch there that same day. The story begins later that very evening – about 5pm.

Cafe Utopia
…. Returning back to my hôtel I got changed after having had a bath and checked out the brochure for films at Café Utopia. I changed into some fresh clothes, rested for a few minutes and went out to Café Utopia with the intention of eating again and watching a film called Versailles. It now started to rain a bit this evening, then, thankfully, the sun came out once more. I did some people watching and note making while I waited for my food that I had ordered, namely the Assiette de Quarter Heures. It turned out to be the same salad as lunchtime but now with white asparagus and belly pork, melted camembert and prunes from Agen. Yet more fibre and water and, in a separate basket, more rock-hard bread.


After my meal I decided to go for a walk anyway and see the film another time, perhaps. A lot of the time I was in Bordeaux I had the feeling of not wasting the chances to explore and enjoy the sunny weather and made a lot of decisions based purely on those notions.

Full of food now, I thought a nice evening stroll was in order and I made my way to where the Sunday brocantes (junk) market happens every week. This was about two tram stops away and about a fifteen minute journey on foot. I ignored my gurgling tummy and set off with my camera, map and notebook.



As the sun was going down I thought perhaps I would get some good photographic shots of old buildings in the golden light. The district where the Sunday market takes place is a bit of a rough area. On arrival there I witnessed some teenage boys playing basketball nearby and I took a photo of some old street lamps with red windows in the background and afterwards made my way on foot towards the river front. The journey to the river Garonne would be no more than ten minutes away. I ignored my gurgling tummy once more as I walked through the 18th Century backstreets and witnessed the swallows swooping overhead.

Tram interior
Suddenly I felt it best to return to the safety of my hôtel as my gurgling tummy was feeling decidedly like it might have un accident terrible. Thinking quickly, I got a tram ticket from the machine on the platform and thankfully a tram arrived sharpish. I was becoming acutely aware that the nearest stop to the hôtel was five stops away. The tram system is known there as Citram and the tracks as Le Tramway. I crossed my legs and hoped not to die – of embarrassment. So, as the full to bursting Citram wove its way quickly across town I concentrated on the reflections on the tram windows as my tummy gurgled ever more dangerously away. We arrived at the terminus and main expanse of Quinconces Square and I cautiously got off, hardly daring to put one foot in front of the other. I had no idea of where any loos might be except in my hôtel room.

bridge en route

how I must have looked
On the way across Quinconces Square I had to stop several times and tightly cross my legs and clench my buttocks. It was an awful feeling standing there sweating and frankly, in big danger of shitting oneself. As I made my stop-start journey with increased trepidation across the broad expanse of the square, a huge queue for the resident Pinder Circus suddenly surged forward. I slipped through a gap in the queue and had to stop cross-legged again every few yards with the need to go to the loo ever more urgent. I kept going hot and cold and I admit to thoughts of ‘what if?’ What if I just don’t make it and cack myself in the street!?

Drops of sweat beaded my worried brow and my temperature moved again rapidly from hot to cold and now cramp was setting into one of my legs from the tension of crossing them. I thought 'Please don't let the Pinder Circus promotional clown find me and want to chat circus animal ethics tonight.'

The way forward, through to my hôtel on Rue Notre Dame was just two more cobbled streets . Firstly I needed to go down Rue Foy; three more tight buttock stops. Nearly there keep going. Rue Notre Dame at last, more horrible warm gurgling sensations and two more cross-legged stops. Keep going, keep going! Don’t think about it. Ignore the dog barking. Mind the dog shit.  Hôtel up ahead. Mind more dog shit. Find the key.


At the hôtel door now, smile nicely at receptionist and straight upstairs and first left to the loo. Key in door, key in door! Door open! Mad dash to bathroom. Made it!

I tell you something, it was a mighty relief that I hadn’t embarrassed myself in the street or even worse in the hôtel foyer. Phew! Lesson learnt – cut down on the fibre. Two lots of prunes in one day! Raw cabbage and lots of liquid! Am I mad?


After reassuring myself that the danger was past I sat on the bed and read some info on the famous La Tupina restaurant – visited by Rick Stein - and wrote up three pages of notes. I then bathed and relaxed and I went to bed at 8.50pm. Merde! What a drama!

Note: Apart from the top picture of the lamps none of the following pictures were taken on the way back to the hotel that night. You could say that I had more pressing things on my mind.

#Bordeaux #BordeauxFrance

9 comments:

Janette said...

Read this just after eating my lunch - lovely! I once had a 'toilet incident' at work after eating a curry the night before. Me and curry have since parted company, literally ...!

Marian Barker said...

I enjoyed re-reading this account.

The cleanest public loos I found in Bordeaux are just off the Quinconces Square (and they're free).

Last week I noticed a lot of new free mechanical loos dotted around the city.

Phil Lowe said...

Janette: opps. bad timing there. 'toilet incident' so delicately put and lady-like.

Marian: Thanks Marian. Next time I go to Bordeaux I shall keep an eye open for those WC sanctuaries.

The Quizzical Observer said...

A very nicely written account - I can see why it's stuck in your memory. As a regular festival-goer I can sympathise: there's often too much beer and curry involved, and you have to always allow for there being a queue for the portaloos... and sometimes they get blocked up... but I don't think we need to go into any more detail.

Phil Lowe said...

Quizzical Observer:No, no more detail is required thanks. Simply the words 'blocked porta-loos' are sufficient. I've already had to remove one comment for far too much toilet info. :0)

khushi said...

Despite the obvious discomfort, which I can relate to, this was a funny post...your narration made it so! I also liked the way you managed to give a lot of general information about the place and mode of travel..:)

Phil Lowe said...

Khushi: thanks very much for your lovely compliments and glad you found it amusing.

French Fancy said...

Just popping in with not much time to read a long post. Every second counts atm.

Hope things are going well for you, Phil

(why have you got word veri AND comment moderation. Do you need wv if you have cm?)

Phil Lowe said...

French Fancy: Good to hear from you and thanks for taking the time to pop onto my blog. I dunno. Thought just had comment verification due to spam.