Culture rage

The French must have some of the silliest opening hours in the world. I’ve just got back from an attempted trip to do some washing, having watched the clothes pile up for weeks – I must have more clothes than I think, because it’s the first load I’ve done in my three and a half weeks in the country. Or at least it would have been, except the trip wasn’t much of a success, since the laundrette is open only from 5.30-9.30pm on a Monday (and 12.30-9.30pm Tuesday to Friday). Since when did laundrette keep such ridiculous hours? Self-service ones, keep in mind, so there’s no real need to have someone there the whole time, only to come and unlock in the morning and bolt up again at night.

The one I tried is a ‘laverie libre-service’, a self-service laundrette. There’s a plain ‘laverie’ further up the road; I’m guessing the omission of ‘libre-service’ might be a hint that it’s a dry-cleaners rather than a laundrette or, at the very least, that they only do service washes. But in any case, that is open from 9.00am-12.30pm on a Monday – and the rest of the week, too, it seems. So, if I had actually got up when the sunlight first stirred me this morning, seeping through the two square window panes that aren’t covered by my shutters, just above the French doors that open on to my balcony, then I would have been okay.

Likewise, if I had laid in bed all day, rolled out at about half four for the pain au chocolat and pain aux raisins I had in the morning (had to get change for the washing machines – that’s my excuse, anyway), and then tried to take my way down to the laundrette, I would have been equally okay. But because I chose to go down at what struck me as a relatively normal hour, just before one o’clock in the afternoon (I had already considered, and discounted, the possibility that a self-service laundrette would take an hour and three quarter long lunch break for itself, like the banks do), I had to turn around and lug my bag of clothes right back home again. I swear, this country gives me more culture shock – perhaps culture rage is a more accurate term, when all I want is clean socks – than any part of SE Asia ever has.

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