Friday, July 9, 2010

Smell the Glove: Why It's So Hard to Find a Washcloth in Europe

Many Americans traveling in France and other European countries panic when they can't find a washcloth in their hotel bathroom. Don't worry, it's not lost. Most hotels and B&Bs do not provide them.

In France they are called a 'gant' or 'gant de toilette'--a 'glove.' They are considered a personal item and Europeans generally pack their own. The key word is personal. Washcloths are used to clean personal areas of the body. It's kind of like sharing underwear or reusing toilet paper--you just don't do it (well Sheryl Crow might).

Let's face it, French washing machines take 3 hours to do a load and the laundry comes out dirty and tattered...don't get me started on the dryers. I for one, am not fully confident that these machines are able to kill the bacteria that might survive hundreds of uses.

Washcloths are beginning to make infrequent appearances so you might find them. If you feel barbaric without one, pack your own or buy one there. New gants make fun souvenirs--they are small, inexpensive and offer an authentic glimpse into European culture.

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