Pictured is the door to a very special tipi (or teepee if you prefer). Sitting next to a piste by the Merdassier area of La Clusaz, with a drag lift taking skiers up beside it and surrounded by a few other tipis that form a serving bar and a restaurant, the sign on this tipi says ‘tipipi’, and its a literal meaning. ‘Pipi‘ is the kid word in French for urinating, equivalent to ‘wee’ or ‘pee’ in English, and inside the tipipi is a perfectly usable toilet, complete with plumbing and a powerful flush, and on the day I went, an empty roll of toilet paper. No sink as yet, but I’m guessing (hoping) that will be plumbed in soon.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a freezing cold tipi where removing your layers is going to lead to sucking your breath in because of the icy air: there’s actually a layer of wood and insulation between the cloth adorning both the interior and the exterior walls. And just behind the door is a heater in case it’s really cold. The day I snapped this photo, the air outside was freezing, but the tipipi was toasty warm without the heater on.
So, you can sit on the throne, listening to the sounds of the drag lift pulling the skiers up the hill, with the spacious comfort of the warm tipi surrounding you (see photo below).
This beats all of the other toilets in La Clusaz, although with some of the toilets that’s not a particularly difficult task. There’s certainly no competition with the Caves du Paccaly pub’s toilets, where the only toilet has a door right beside the men’s urinal, means that you need to divert your eyes if there’s a man taking a ‘pipi‘.
It’s a similar situation at three of the four toilet blocks available at La Balme, two of which include squat toilets with doors, but anyone who has worn baggy ski pants knows the dangers involved in pulling them down anywhere near a squat toilet: if the legs hit the floor, who knows what they’ll get covered in.
I’d say the closest competition goes to a restaurant at the bottom of the l’Etale piste which is decorated really nicely and includes a modern-looking skull and antlers — made entirely of wood — complete with feathers and lights. It’s certainly the funniest light fitting I’ve ever seen. However, the tipipi still gets my vote for the best toilet I’ve possibly ever enjoyed sitting on.