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F is for France, But T is for Toilet

The toilet jokes just don’t quit. I got off my own throne long enough to fly to New York, from where I am writing now. It is here that one can try out artist Maurizio Cattelan’s working toilet cast from gold that has been installed in a bathroom on the fifth floor of the Guggenheim Museum.

The Guggen-head

In the museum’s blog, journalist Caitlin Dover called it the “Guggen-head.” The artist expects visitors to use it and after all I’ve been through related to plumbing, I may just have to try it out while I’m here!

You may also remember, if you’ve been reading Parler Paris a few years, that my Niçois apartment, “Le Matisse,” was purchased without the knowledge of the “sani-broyeur” toilet — considered a “vice caché,” or hidden defect. A sani-broyeur toilet is a toilet that macerates the contents so that it can flush down a standard sized pipe (in this case 40mm instead of 100mm), rather than a large sewage pipe designated for such waste. It was a brilliant invention of Saniflo that enabled homes to have proper waste evacuation even when the property wasn’t fitted with sewage drainage systems. It’s a long and sordid tale into which I will not delve here, but which you can revisit by reading Parler Paris from January 29, 2014. The bottom line is that I sued the seller, a “marchand de bien” (real estate developer), as by law it must be disclosed and I wouldn’t have purchased the apartment if I had known.

By now you’re wondering why I wouldn’t have known, seeing as they are normally quite obvious, but I can tell you that even three different plumbers thought this one was the real thing. Nonetheless, the suit has been in progress since 2012 — legal issues in France are snail pace slow (no wonder Paris is an “escargot”) and cost a small fortune with all the “experts” that are required, of which there were many who investigated the toilet and the plumbing three times. I can also tell you that massive works were done over the years to have it flushing swimmingly, so there is no worry of a problem, as long as it only eats toilet paper and nothing else. (We once had a renter [in a different apartment with a sani-broyeur] flush down a condom which tangled in the mechanism and of course, the whole thing had to be replaced. They are expensive.)

Monday I got the good news that I won the case and the seller must make financial amends. The bad news is that they have 30 days to appeal or pay. I pray that they pay — the lawsuit has gone on long enough and I’m tired of talking about toilets. (Aren’t you tired of hearing about them?)

F Is For France - by Piu Marie Eatwell

"Madame Pipi"“Madame Pipi”

A Taste of NICE, FRANCE - by Margo Lestz

Jean Cocteau on the Riviera

Paris is Cinema

On the plane I had a chance to read Piu Marie Eatwell’s (don’t you love that name?) new book, “F Is for France: A Curious Cabinet of French Wonders” and laughed through it from cover to cover. She is also the author of “They Eat Horses, Don’t They?: The Truth About the French.” If it’s as funny as “F,” then I’ll want to.

Here is’s description of the book: “From absinthe and catacombs to former French soccer player Zinedine Zidane, Eatwell leaves no stone unturned, taking readers off the beaten path to explore the kind of information that gets missed in guidebooks and ‘official’ information sources. Who could imagine, for example, that there is a village in France where UFOs are banned from landing? Or that there is a verifiable population of wild kangaroos in the forests surrounding Paris?”

One entry is of course: T is for…Toilet, obviously one of my favorite subjects (I jest.) Eatwell points out that often there is a “Madame Pipi,” a “fierce” lady who guards the doors of public toilets and who doles out toilet paper. In Strasbourg, a professional qualification is offered “which includes training in detecting viruses, microbes, moss, and signs of mold, appropriate cleaning techniques, and how to deal with the amorous advances of clients.”

BTW, there is another book with the same name, but it’s not by Eatwell. It’s by Thomas Ap Dewi: “F Is For France: The essential A to Z guide to the culture, customs, history and people in the land of liberte, egalite and fraternite (T is for Travel Book 3).” I don’t know it, but doubt it can compete!

Get your copy of F is for France (by Eatwell) by visiting our Recommended Reading pages.

Meanwhile, Margo Lestz, author of two paperback books, “Curious Histories of Nice, France” and “French Holidays & Traditions,” are now for sale in five bookstores in Nice:

    La Briqueterie, 4-6 rue Jules Gilly – in the Old Town
    Papeterie Rontani, 5 rue Alexandre Mari – in the Old Town
    Librairie Masséna, 55 rue Gioffredo – off Place Massena
    Nouvelle Librairie Française, 111 rue de France
    Librairie de la Presse, 103 rue de France (This shop specializes in used English paperbacks).

In her latest blog, “Margo’s Musings,” author Lestz is offering a FREE download of her newest book “A Taste of NICE, FRANCE.” Paraphrasing…”It’s a collection of articles from her blog sampling some of the art, architecture, and other bits and bobs found in and around Nice along with lots of color photos to whet your appetite for this intriguing city.”

Find out more and get your free download at A Taste of NICE, FRANCE. And feel free to share Margo’s e-book with anyone you know who loves Nice.

If that isn’t enough, Margo’s  offering a FREE e-booklet, “Jean Cocteau on the Riviera” — a few articles about the man himself, Jean Cocteau and the Cocteau sites on the Riviera. Available at Jean Cocteau on the Riviera. And again, feel free to share it.

On another subject, be sure to mark your calendar for “Paris is Cinema” when it presents Femmes Filmmakers Fortnight September 28th through October 11th — at the Cinéma Le Nouvel Odéon at 6 rue de l’Ecole de Médecine, 75006 Paris (Métro: Odéon ou Cluny La Sorbonne). See the trailer as well.

Learn more by visiting or email [email protected] to be on their mailing list. Visit their Facebook page and be sure to LIKE it so you’ll receive upcoming notices, as well.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds -

Adrian Leeds
Adrian Leeds Group


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P.S. I’m in New York! Are you? Or not far? How would you like to meet with me while I’m here for a personal consultation? Here’s your chance to discuss a possible investment in France…or move to France. We can discuss all of it and I can answer all your questions. I can schedule our two hours together this week: Thursday, Friday or Saturday September 22,23,24 — at a reduced price of $330 (normally 330€ — a $40 savings). Email me immediately at [email protected] or better yet, send a text message to +1 (917) 388-0590 to schedule your time. I look forward to meeting with you!


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