How to pee in Switzerland

Sit Down To Pee signI saw this sign on a toilet when I attended a book launch in Switzerland recently. I know the Swiss are quite strict on things like noise pollution and residential car parking spaces and, well, just about everything else, but surely a man is allowed to stand up to pee! Okay, I’m not a guy, and maybe it doesn’t bother guys. So I asked some male friends what they thought. Responses ranged from “It’s unmanly,” to “It’s a luxury after a big night out when you can’t be bothered to stand,” and everything imaginable in between. One friend suggested it was for noise-related reasons, which does make sense given the bookshop location.

So, what is the purpose of this sign? To emasculate men? To make them feel special? Or to shame them into not splashing the seat?

More questions. Do men actually abide by such signs, or do they ignore the sign until they’re finished, then wipe away any tell-tale signs so nobody knows? Or do they deliberately leave a mess to show the sign who really is the boss?

Given that this is Switzerland, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d seen a surveillance camera pointing at the toilet seat. However, this was at an English book shop, so they’re obviously far too polite to go to such measures.

Now, the actual book launch…

Mucho Caliente by Francesca PrescottIn case you’re wondering what book was being launched, it was Mucho Caliente by Francesca Prescott. The book launch was great fun, with some really interesting questions asked of the author and some very amusing segments of the book recited. The story revolves around a woman who tries her hardest not to fall in love with a Latino superstar who happens to be on the same Spanish island as her and her friends. That’s about all I can tell you as I haven’t started reading my copy yet. I’ve been too busy thinking about toilet sign symbolism.


I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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14 comments on “How to pee in Switzerland
  1. To shame them, I guess. But that is really really funny!!!

  2. This is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time.

  3. Oh dear me! This is hilarious! And if you knew my family (and I mean REALLY knew my family) you’d be giggling as much as I am now, thinking how, well…how typical it is that there was toilet humour involved in my first public reading ever, albeit indirectly!

    By the way,I’ve never seen a sign like this anywhere, and I’ve lived in Switzerland all my life! So you’ve got me pondering the issue too…

    Thanks for coming to my launch! Hope you enjoy the book.

    xx Francesca

  4. Mona Risk says:

    Francesca, as usual you always find something to make us laugh. I’ve never seen such a sign in the USA or Europe but I know that in France and Switzerland, I stood puzzled and inconvenienced in front of a ladies’s room locked door because I didn’t have the right currency or the right change!!!

  5. Hi Mona! April is the one who happened upon this unusual sign and whose quirky sense of humour gave us a good giggle!

    I do know what you mean about those infuriating cubicles demanding hard cash before you can spend a penny. Grrr!

  6. How absurd. I’ve never see a “how to pee” sign. I’m surprised the sign wasn’t splashed with pee. If I were a man, that’s certainly the reaction I’d have!

    I’m so glad you enjoyed Cesca’s reading and launch. I love her writing!

  7. Geoff says:

    Ok, looks like I’m the first male here 😉

    Personally, it’s not a problem, certainly not emasculating and it makes total sense in a private environment. You’d never dream of choosing that option in a public loo though.

    And now the Swiss explanation. It’s two-fold, to improve cleanliness (apparently some of us can be messy 😉 and secondly to prevent noise. On this note, some flats request (if not demand) that residents do not flush after 10pm (or take showers, come to that).

    If you live in Switzerland, you get used to these things…

  8. April says:

    Phew! Just back from a great weekend away. I can happily say that I enjoyed every page of Mucho Caliente which I finished reading yesterday.

    Thanks for all your comments. I’m relieved that Francesca didn’t take offence about the toilet humour being included in the same post!

  9. OH my goodness. I’m only an hour from Geneva but I’m SO glad I live on the French side of the border! Too funny. Cynthia in the French Alps

  10. MlQ says:

    This is not funny at all.
    a lot of guy spray the urine on the toilet seat, even at their house.

  11. Demarcus Desalvo says:

    Thank you for your article. Much obliged.

  12. Neil says:

    I have to sit to pee

  13. Roberto says:

    The only problem I find with sitting down is the water is too cold when the gentlemens parts dangle down.

  14. Peter says:

    Here in Germany it is normal to pee sitting down. If men pee standing up, there is always some urine on the toilet. I pee sitting down, it is much more hygienic.

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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