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Call me “Blanche, the Blanchisseuse” (Washerwoman)

24-7-13AirTexSuitcaseIt took four days, two dozen phone calls and three Facebook posts for Delta/Air France to locate and deliver my lost luggage. It’s never been so thrilling to see dirty laundry! The bag came at 9 p.m., just 30 minutes from the end of the delivery cycle.

I was getting ready to pick up the phone one more time to ‘politely’ ask for the ‘umpteenth’ time, where the ‘heck’ was my bag when the phone rang. The driver had the wrong door code. Ugh!

Naturally, I started to panic that I’d never see the bag again, especially after a close friend chuckled when he told me one time his bag arrived ONE YEAR late! (He must have been shocked when it finally turned up.)

I’ll never know if Facebook postings are what triggered the good result, but a posting on the Delta page, the Air France page and on my personal Facebook page did elicit fast responses from both airlines and a slew of friends with their own encouraging stories of having eventually found their bags.

The Facebook posting was a suggestion from a friend who had found it useful and so took the suggestion seriously — as no doubt, the airlines don’t want the bad publicity and therefore they are watching the posts carefully. Next time you have the same problem (or similar), try it! If nothing else, it makes you feel better for having ‘vented’ your frustrations!

24-7-13washerThe washing machine was put into action as quickly as the bag was opened and sorted. With the intense summer heat, clothing gets changed frequently and all that was left in the closet were old gray summer frocks, pilled up and boring. I was pining for my new duds — the summery things purchased on Magazine Street in New Orleans that have a short life span in Paris — only the couple weeks a year when the heat is on…like NOW!

You will be happy to know the now clean clothing is hung and drying on the rack (as if you really care!).

No, I do not have a dryer! Believe it or not, when I bought the machine a million years ago (maybe really about 12), I opted OUT of buying a washer/dryer combo. These machines are quite common and the owners of our rental apartments equip them with this kind of machine. It washes, then it automatically dries…but, badly. The dryer part of the machine is not vented and therefore the ‘dryer’ part is really just a simulation of a dry sauna with the steam from the clothing evaporating into the main drain pipe. It takes two hours to dry even a few of towels and if you take the risk of drying your clothing, beware of baked, wrinkled shadows of their former selves.

Americans who are used to having two enormous machines in a separate laundry room in their spacious homes — one that washes in less than 30 minutes and the other that fluff dries programmed any one of a zillion ways (maybe really about 5 or 6) are spoiled by this ‘chic-choc’ method of doing laundry.

24-7-13laundryWe don’t have that ‘luxury,’ but I’ve learned that what we Americans think of a ‘luxury’ isn’t really all that smart or ‘luxurious’ after all. The reason I opted out of a dryer was mainly because the only thing it’s really useful for is doing towels. And with the lack of a dryer comes some amazing benefits:

1. Clothing and sheets need no ironing
2. Clothing lasts longer
3. Clothing does not shrink
4. Towels become great exfoliators and absorb better

You should try it sometime. Just go out and buy yourself a drying rack and some clothespins. (Remember those or are you too young?) Then, try drying your things on the rack instead of in the dryer and after 24 hours see if you like them better or not. Of course, there is an ART to hanging the things in a way that removes all wrinkles, which I have perfected over the ‘million’ years doing this! (They don’t call me “Blanche” for nothing!)

24-7-13Jean-Francois Millet Les lavandieeresIn the Middle Ages, clothing was washed only every two or three months. (I wash almost every day because the capacity of the washer is only 5 kilos.) It was soaked in a tub with a washing solution of lye and “Fuller’s Earth” (sedimentary clays or clay-like earthy material frequently used to decolorize, filter, and purify animal, mineral, and vegetable oils and greases) or white clay. Then it was trampled or beaten, after which the dirty wash water ran out through a hole. This process was repeated until the water came out clean, after which the clothes were rinsed, wrung out by hand, and left to air dry.

Whoa! We’ve come a long way, baby! And thanks to the French of the Middle Ages, the word “laundry” comes from the old French “lavanderie” and a “washerwoman” is a “blanchisseuse.” (“Blanche” if you like to abbreviate.)

A la prochaine…

adrian 11-9-12Adrian Leeds

Editor, Parler Paris & Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC


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24-7-13PS NudesP.S. To our New York friends: Photographer, Erica Simone, invites you all to join her this Saturday evening (one night event) during the photography exhibit NUDES at the Reverse Art Space in Williamsburg, BK where unseen images from her “Nue York: Self-Portraits of a Bare Urban Citizen” project will be ‘revealed’ among wonderful works by Elizabeth Waugh, Lauren Renner, Natalie De Segonzac, Neil Craver and Brittany Markert. The show, hosted by Beautiful Savage Magazine and curated by Daine Coppola, features photographers capturing the naked human body in provocative and unconventional ways. NUDES includes works that experiment with polarity, either thematically or compositionally, while evoking youth culture and edginess. The exhibit takes place Saturday July 27th, 2013 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Reverse Art Space, 28 Frost Street, Williamsburg, BK 11211 (map available here) and RSVP: [email protected], Facebook Event.

P.P.S. Eating well and affordably is just as important a part of travel as is where you stay. If you’re vacation this summer brings you to Paris, you’ll want to arm yourself with the Adrian Leeds Top 100 Cheap Insider Paris Resturants, available from Get your copy today


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