Laundry in Paradise

If you had to cite one, single, horrendous consequence of Adam and Eve's misadventure with an apple in the Garden of Eden, it would have to be laundry.

You'd rather that humans had not discovered sex? You would deny yourself the great privilege and joy of raising a child? Granted, both activities can get messy. And smelly. But who would care about the muss and the fuss if the result wasn't a load of messy, smelly laundry?

And guess what. If you live in France, you'll have to do laundry. Yes. Even in the south of France, where the sun shines 300 days a year, stuff gets dirty.

And not just clothes get dirty in France. Floors need to be swept, mopped, and/or vacuumed. Dinner dishes need washing. And speaking of dirty dishes, where do you suppose that food in France comes from? Do you think that it grows on trees? Uh…well…some of it does. But most of us need to go to market at some point, whether the market in the village square or the Carrefour supermarket. And if it’s the Carrefour, that probably means getting in the car. And if you own a car, it is bound to break down. And even if you do the work on it yourself, your clothes will get dirty. And you know what that means.


Lately, I’ve been reading any number of blog posts and newsletter articles that have bemoaned one aspect or another of life in France. More precisely, living in France. These writings are not the work of tourists. The authors are expats living in France permanently. They grumble. Their roofs leak. Insects invade. Machinery balks. Intransigent bureaucrats frustrate them. One recent essayist living in a rural village expressed disappointment that so few neighbors spoke English, that so many neighbors hunted to put food on the table.

The American comedian Jerry Seinfeld has a tagline. Who are these people? "They have the greeting cards with the couples on the front. They photograph them. These hazy focus people. They’re always having picnics. There’s always a tree, a pond… who are these people? I don’t know them. I don’t want them on my card either."

Living in France is not a greeting card. It’s not a vacation. Living in France is living. It’s sitting for an hour on a cracked, vinyl-covered chair in a waiting room until the mechanic comes out and tells you that it will take several days and 900 euros to fix your car. It’s having a strong north wind lift up the slates on the roof and let rainwater pour in through the cracks. It’s having the sewer in the street back up and having the utility company say that it’s your responsibility while your plumber insists that it’s theirs.

Living in France means doing the laundry.

Reprinted from

Consider what it means to wear clothes in Paradise.

ahhhh, and so much more! I just love this country, give me more laundry and funny mechanics, I take it with all that amazing cheese and friendly bon jour and refreshing hope evoking strikes, this is Thoreau country. love it.

And I agree. I do love it here, more than I thought that I would. But I came with eyes open. That's my point.

Hear, hear! Might I add that many of the complaints seem a conflation of the difficulties of living in the countryside with the difficulties of cultural adjustment. Many people who move here from abroad have never lived in the countryside and think that the problems that go with that lifestyle are unique to France when they are not.

Yes, hear hear too. And let's add strikes, riots, mafia killings, terroism... :-)

Love this, brilliant, although we haven't moved to France we do travel widely around Europe, mostly France. Guess what yes correct we do have to find a site with decent washing machines, even better if we can hire an iron, yep my kind of fun article tongue in cheek with lots of truth. I wasn't originally going to comment on the person who didn't like his village as no one spoke; don't come to some parts of rural anywhere even I have lived in a hamlet and altough 98% speak and accept that I'm an outsider after 20 odd years who is not going to pillage etc around the area, oh and we have a shoot in the area and as an occasional beater I enjoy pheasant, duck, pigeon etc oh and hare perhaps once a year although they are not numerous in the area so are left alone most of the time to try increase the population. Right rambled on too much. Thank you for the article, enjoyed it.

Hear hear. I have been thinking this for many years, but when you mention it to one of "those people", they are offended. I am offended by their offence.

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