French laundry and the knicker tree

I've now been in France all of three weeks, well a couple of days over. Practically a resident. The weather has warmed up and everything is in bloom. Still, this is a bit early for the tourist season in the Dordogne. Until last week, I carried my umbrella on my walks into the village and even with sunnier days it takes forever for heat to penetrate the stone walls of Le Pigeonierre--my picturesquely named, but not very warm abode. I shiver as I write. I'm a tourist, let's face it. I look like a tourist, I sound like a tourist, I take bad pictures like a tourist.

Tackling the laundry recently made feel a bit less of a tourist though. In the kitchen of Le Pigeonnier there is a small under-the-counter fridge and an equally small washing machine. I thought perhaps it also dried the clothes but I was directed to the clothes line in the courtyard. I dumped in a load-- small-- of clothes, poured a little detergent over the top and then had the bright idea of checking the dials on the front of the machine. All in French, naturellement. 'Depart' (accent over the e) seemed like a good place to start, so I pressed that button. The machine filled, clothes swished around and I made lunch –mushrooms sauteed on the burner above the machine. The pan on the stove got a bit agitated, pretty much in synch with the clothes agitating as they went though their spin cycle below. I ate lunch–mushrooms, salad, a glass of wine–on the terrace.

After a while, I realized that the machine was still going, and going and going. Water filled, emptied, clothes spun and sloshed in a seemingly endless cycle. I punched the button marked 'Arret' (stop. Accent over the e. Note to myself, get a French keyboard) The machine didn’t arret though. More sloshing and spinning. Probably an hour had gone by. I ran over to the neighbor who used to live in the Pigeonniere. English and very nice. She said she’d never really understood how the machine worked, but just pressed #7 'Rapide.' I went back and pressed 'Rapide.' Nothing. Or rather just more sloshing and washing.

I had another look at the dial. What was this word 'Essorage? ' I went to Google translate. Spin dry. Eureka . . . voila perhaps. I pressed 'Essorage,' 45 minutes later the clothes were still essoraging. I opened the door. I don’t know how to say dripping wet in French, but that’s what they were. Whatever they’d been doing in there, they definitely weren’t essoraging. I carried them out to the terrace where the sun was shining and tried to ignore the ominous dark cloud on the horizon. Soon the grape arbor was festooned with my knickers, the table where I'd eaten lunch and the back of the chairs were draped with jeans and shirts. Before long, the sun went behind the clouds and the heavens opened up.

Twenty four hours later, knickers draped over bannisters, bathroom fixtures, electric heater going full blast. Must say though that I felt ever so slightly less like a tourist.

Update. I've mastered the machine. I'm so much less of a tourist than I was way back then . . . until I try to speak in the Super U that is.



To get é from keyboard type e when holding down alt gr key. á works the same ..... other than that I'm still learning too. Like the tempo of the story even though we can guess where it's going. Keep them coming please.

You are not alonein this. We have a French washing machine in the gite & I`ve never mastered that either. The instruction leaflet is useless, the symbols on the dial are not clear & it takes forever to do a cycle. I just leave our mainly French guests to it I`m afraid but they cant make head nor tail of the instructions either!

On is IPad this morning, my husband showed me your article (in a newspaper?) knowing that I would find it humorous. I have had past issues with our washing machine. I still can't fathom why a washing machine would have allowed me to open the door while it was still full of water...we have made peace now - I only use #7! One morning when I was sure it was safe to hang out the clothes, not only did it downpour it hailed on them as well. I do commiserate!

Enjoyed our story - thanks!

Definitely do what Steve Yates recommends. Check the filter. There is usually a small door on the front of the machine that when opened exposes a drain plug. If there is water still in the machine, it will come rushing out, so be sure to have a flat pan (I use a baking sheet) to collect the water, and open the drain very slowly or you will need a mop.

Having moved to France from the US, where the machines wash and spin your clothes in about a 30 minute cycle, I too was perplexed by the unreasonably long (to me) cycles that the French machines go through. That's just the way they are. Not much one can do about it but be patient.

google "French keyboard" or international keyboard and you will find stuff to download so that you can type in French without fiddling around. Or, use your iPhone, iPad or Mac and you can have as many international keyboards as you like! Just go to Settings, General, Keyboard, Keyboards, Add Keyboard, and you have the whole world to choose from.

You don't need a French keyboard to type accents . For example - hold down Alt and tap in 130 on the right hand numerical pad et voila é . There are loads more, just Google "French accents on keyboard" and you'll get a list of accents and the keys to press whilst holding down the Alt key.

Hope the laundry has now been mastered, Janice, although I have to say it's very French to just leave it out in the knowledge that it will eventually dry........... I loved reading your story; reminded me of the horrors we went through when we arrived 10 years much to learn, so little time.

Great fun for us, but not for you. Glad you have mastered the machine.

Actually the last laundry day was far more successful. About the knickers…yeah, the next time I’m tempted to show my underwear, I should probably shop for new stuff first.

Resisting the temptation to ogle your smalls, can I suggest that you check the filter on the machine, when our laundry came out wet, it was because I'd washed some bathroom mats that had clogged the filter.

Haha enjoyed that .... btw You need new knickers ;)