Villa Louis Pasteur: Part 2

In an earlier post, I described some things that makes staying in visiting faculty accommodations in Paris more pleasant. In response to a comment that someone found these tips helpful, here’s another post, this time on the very practical matter of braving the public laundromat facilities in France.

Back home in Canada, this was a no-brainer because I had a washer and dryer at home and I could run it at any time of the day while I worked on other things. Going to a laundromat changes things. On the bright side, you can do multiple loads at once on large capacity machines and get it all done quickly; on the grim side, you may be stuck lugging large loads of laundry while pushing a stroller, balancing an umbrella, and entertaining a hungry toddler!

Here’s what I learned from going to the nearest laundromat from Villa Louis Pasteur, Lav Club at 57 Rue Claude Bernard:

Even if you’re fluent in French, it might be hard to figure out the drill from the instructions:

So here are my instructions. First, load your laundry into a washing machine. The washing machines come in two sizes (6kg or 13kg). I usually used the smaller capacity ones. Close the door.

(Note: I usually sorted at VLP so that I could do a load of darks and another of whites/light colours. I used a big laundry bag brought from Canada and slung it on my stroller. I saw my neighbours using their suitcases with wheels). Select the type of wash you are doing. The control panel offers you lots of choices. The numbers you see are temperatures: 60 and up would be hot, 40 is warm, 30 is cool. You can also choose settings for delicate wash (silk, wool) and permanent press.

Put in your detergent in the main compartment, “II” (bottom left?). I usually stuck to a basic wash using liquid detergent. I bought Ariel, a popular brand similar to Tide, at Monoprix. You can buy Ariel tablets and Snuggle fabric softener from a vending machine at the Lav Club. If using liquid fabric softener or starch, put it in the “flower” symbol section. If doing a prewash, use the “I” compartment.

Now, walk over to the control panel. Punch in your washing machine number. The cost per wash, if I recall correctly, was 4 euros. Use the correct denomination of coins. The panel is supposed to take bills, but I could never get this to work! Sometimes, you will find a very helpful local who will help break down your bill, but a better bet is to go to the convenience store just down the street and buy a yoghurt or candy or something. No one will steal your laundry as you’re doing this. Be sure to have extra change. I’ve entered in the correct amount, only to have the machine deny having received payment. You will know that it worked when the washing machine starts to churn.

This is where it turns into a guessing game for me. Normally, North American washing machines take 26 to 30 minutes to wash a load of laundry. In France, there are exceptionalities. My husband didn’t believe me until he witnessed it for himself! It is a bit like a random number generator. Ignore the electronic display. This changes erratically. It might be temperature, not time remaining. It took about 45 minutes or more to do a load of laundry. This gave me enough time to head over to the library on Rue Mouffetard to entertain my daughter in the children’s section in the basement (very nice librarians and very nice French children who will ask you whose mother you are). You could also pick up some groceries at Franprix on Rue Mouffetard by the library while you’re at it.

Once the wash is done, you can use one of the two plastic laundry baskets at Lav Club to transfer your load to a dryer. Put the clothes in and close the door. Punch in the appropriate number at the panel. One round of drying costs 1 euro. You don’t have any control over the settings, and the heat is, well, very hot. So don’t put in woolly bits or anything that might shrink (e.g., designer jeans that are already a bit snug). Technically, you can add more time while the dryer is moving, but this wasn’t reliable for me. Also, you should be able to open the door and take a few things out and restart the dryer, but this didn’t work for me, either!

My favourite part about doing laundry at the Lav Club were the very polite construction workers, “Bonjour Madame!” who were doing some reno to the building while I was there. They always greeted me and opened the door for me so I could push the stroller through, and didn’t mind my daughter staring at them while they worked.

On the way back to Villa Louis Pasteur, you may encounter a beggar on the corner by the Post Office. I always hated passing by there because he kept saying, “Madame, j’ai faim!” Terrible! I wish I could have given him something, but I was always out of coins. Sigh!


4 responses to “Villa Louis Pasteur: Part 2”

  1. Hi Nobuko,
    Thanks for your post. I am also going to stay at Villa Pasteur and I live in Canada too. Is there something in particular that you wish you had brought from Canada that is hard to find there?
    One more thing: what will I find in the room when I get there? Do they already have bedsheet or I don’t know, cutlery, etc. ?


    1. Hi Alessandro,
      I hope you enjoy your stay at VLP. I was pretty happy with all things French, but I remember my partner missed his Lever 2000 bar soap, which we could not find anywhere in Europe. So if you are particular about your toiletries, you might want to pack them, though you will be able to find many of the same brands from North America. Also, you can get many of the same over-the-counter medications at pharmacies in France (they are everywhere, marked with a green cross), but you will need to describe your symptoms to get what you want, so maybe take things like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

      Your room will have bedsheets and towels (hand towels, bath towels, bath mat), changed weekly. The sheets are not high thread count. The bed is on the firm side, so if you are staying for a long time, I recommend investing in a mattress topper. We wished we had done this. They supply plates, bowls, glasses, small cups, and cutlery (knives, forks, spoons) but not cooking utensils. We bought a paring knife, spatula, wooden spoon, dishtowels, pot holder, and mugs. There is wireless, but you will need a password so we just ended up connecting one laptop and creating a network for the other one. If you are a coffee drinker, I highly recommend packing a travel mug and packing or buying your preferred coffee making device. You may also miss your brand of coffee that you can get in Canada (e.g. Tim Hortons), but you can buy Carte Noire, Lavazza, Nespresso, and Starbucks in France. We really enjoyed our time in France and would go back to do a stint in Paris in an instant!

      1. Hi Nobuko,

        Thank you so much for the detailed information!
        I grew up in Italy and I moved to Canada only few years ago, so I don’t miss Tim Hortons coffee yet. Rather, I miss espresso here in Canada! 😛
        What do you mean by “you will need a password”? How is it different from usual wireless networks with a password? Did they provide you with a wired connection too? Is it actually possible to cook in the studio, or is it too small?
        Thanks for the heads up about the mattress topper. Any other thing that you wish you had bought as early
        as you got there?


        1. Alessandro, if you grew up in Italy, adjusting to Paris should be breeze! For those of us who grew up in Canada, we tend to miss things like Tim’s even if we are actually coffee snobs while in Canada!

          By password for the wireless, it is just the usual thing with wireless networks in general. You need to ask Monsieur Aloui (if he is still running the office).

          I cooked in the studio (we had a larger one) because I had a toddler and I could not make her wait until dinner time in France, which is about 7-8pm at the earliest and more like 9-10pm (compared to say 6pm in Canada). This is because the French take longer lunch breaks and work later. There are lots of restaurants nearby if you like to eat out and an excellent take-out place (I think they had a lot of Italian dishes when I was there) by the bakery around the corner from VLP.

          My advice if you are staying for a longer time is to make yourself comfortable as possible right away in your home away from home. We did this when we lived in Copenhagen, Denmark after our stint in Paris.

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