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french laundry

Everyone in France seems to have a washing machine.   I’ve seen them in people’s homes.   I even have one with a scary Hannibal Lecter looking latch contraption.  But from what I can tell, nobody has a dryer.   Nobody.

In every village I’ve ever been, laundry is hanging out to dry outside their windows.   Bras, underwear, socks, sheets, you name it.   It’s kind of picturesque.  They remind me of colorful flags fluttering against a 
backdrop of shutters and houses.   They can add a touch of pizazz to a dull wall or facade.  I particularly like the households with babies, because the multitude of tiny socks hanging out to dry resemble the mobiles that are often placed over cribs (without the tinkling music, just an occasional chirping bird).

I’m told that it’s okay to hang out clothes in plain sight if you live in a maison de ville (“downtown”), but if you live in a detached home away from the town center where it wouldn’t be noticeable, it’s actually illegal.   Like so many laws, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.  I suppose it varies from town to town.

I often worry that the pigeons who live under the eaves of these homes leave deposits on the clothes and sheets, but apparently nobody else seems to be concerned about it.   Do they have dryers in Paris?   I rarely see clothes hanging out in the street there.   What if it rains for weeks on end?   What do you do if a slug or snail leaves a trail on your clothes?

Rumor has it, clothes that are line dried smell fresher and cleaner than those that are put through the drying cycle.  I suppose they take on the smells in the air, which at this time of year is scented with wisteria, lilacs lavender and jasmine.  One of these days I’ll have to do some laundry and find out for myself.

One Response

  1. Lesley, I hope that you’ve got to experience the joy of line dried clothes, or even better line dried sheets. Line drying is thankfully still the norm in Australia. The smell of sunshine as you get into bed is the reward for bothering to wash your sheets!

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