Laundry in Paris
Admittedly, laundromats, those great American hang-outs, Maytag Meccas, those linty and egalitarian public spaces that would have thrilled the gizzards of de Tocqueville are not very numerous nor very complete in Paris, although certainly in a state of transition.
Some improvement has already occurred; more and more laundromats are being created. The laundromat concept has been so rooted to the idea of self-autonomy that the concept in France has been slow to catch on. Anything that permits the public or the individual to make their own rules, Parisians find suspect. People are unaccustomed to go out and do laundry after hours and stand around with strangers and separate colors from whites and fold underwear in public. It just isn´t French.
Nonetheless, there are laundromats, but you have too look for them, check out their hours, and facilities. Bring a long novel in that Parisian machines plow through lots of cycles and take over an hour to wash and numerous 2-francs coins to dry. The washing machines are calibrated by weight with the five or six kilo machines being the standard and the mega ten or fifteen kilo machine being the ones for blankets, slipcovers, drapes, etc. The machines usually take tokens (jetons) which are bought in machines for anywhere from 18 FF to 30 FF. Bring pockets of assorted change. The common and traditional solution to dirty laundry is the local blanchisserie or cleaners which is usually combined with a nettoyage È† sec or dry cleaners. These are relatively convenient but wildly expensive compared to North American and British standards. Rarely will you find a "same day" or even "next day" service, but this is not a steadfast rule. The white button-down shirt you were used to having cleaned and pressed in a day for a buck and a half will set you back either 20 FF if they send it out to some 3 or 4 day industrial service or 25 FF if they do it on the spot. If you opt for the industrial solution be prepared to sacrifice a button here or there, or sometimes find that a new button or thread that doesn´t match has been sewn on for you at the plant. When you pick your clothes up, you might be surprised to see how the garments are wrapped and folded in either plastic or brown paper. The laundry retains the wire hangers.
Many Parisians have small washers in their apartments, usually in the kitchen or bathroom, because no space for bulky utilities had been anticipated in the master scheme of things Parisian. Dryers are rarer, and masses of Parisians are used to draping wet clothes over chairs, on clothes lines over the tub, and across radiators.
As for cleaning supplies, the French are addicted to their eau de javel, bleach, which they dilute and use to wash, disinfect, and bleach with. Woolite is commonly found but pronounced Wooleet. To clean surfaces and especially floors, the French love their serpillÂŹre, absorbent cleaning rag often wrapped around the head of a broom or mop.