By Bryan Pirolli in Paris—
While walking down Avenue Montaigne in Paris and checking out the Chanel and Givenchy shops, I get self-conscious. This is why I rarely walk down that particular street. Fashion is a quintessential part of Parisian culture, whether we like it or not.
Alas, if I’m not going to wear designer clothes in Paris, I should at least make sure that the clothes I do wear are clean. Tourists making their way across Europe will often feel the need to stop in at the local laundry facility after hours spent on planes and trains, but there are a few tips to keep in mind.
1. Know the difference between “laverie” and “pressing.”
I have never dry-cleaned anything in Paris, but if I wanted to, I’d go to the pressing. Here you can also pay a premium and let someone else do all of the dirty work, while you hit the Louvre and pick it up later.
Otherwise, if you want to do it yourself, you’re looking for the laverie. These laundromats can be found in every neighborhood, are full of washers and dryers, and are usually open from the morning until around 7 or 8 p.m. Ask at your hotel for the nearest laverie.
2. Bring along some patience.
One thing to keep in mind is that a wash cycle in a front loading French washing machine will take a while. Count on 40-50 minutes of washing followed by 20 minutes of drying. Every laverie varies slightly.
Weekends are an especially busy time to do laundry, so if you can, think about going during a weekday morning to avoid the locals who are getting errands done while not at the office over the weekend.
The wait for a dryer can be particularly painful in the wintertime when hanging clothes out to dry is hardly a possibility. Otherwise, skip the dryers and hang up your linens back in the hotel if you have the opportunity. In the summer they’ll be dry within hours.
3. Be prepared to pay.
Unfortunately there are no passes or discounts when it comes to doing laundry. We’re all equal in the eyes of the laverie. Prices for washing will depend on the size of the machine you use, with larger ones costing up to €6 or €7 for a wash.
Drying is usually by the hour, so expect to pay about a euro for 5-10 minutes of hot air and tumbling. It can all start to add up, so come with plenty of coins!
4. Buy detergent there or at the supermarket.
Depending the laverie, detergent is usually available from a dispenser. If you need other products, however, the supermarket does sell both liquid and powder detergent relatively cheaply. Look for the word “lessive,” which means detergent. Common brands are Skip and Persil, amongst others.
If you want fabric softener, which is the only way to make your clothes feel like they actually got clean, a bottle will set you back a few euros but it will last a long time. It might be worth asking your hotel or hostel desk if they have any, to avoid buying a whole bottle for one load. Look for the brand “Cajoline” (Snuggle, in English) to find the other assouplissants.
5. Be smart and safe.
Keep in mind that laundromats are public places where anyone can enter and that there are rarely any personnel present. In the winter, these auspiciously warm indoor areas can attract some unsavory characters looking for a respite from the cold. While usually harmless, these loiterers hanging out in laveries, especially if drinking, could be intimidating, so keep your wits about you.
Also, if you are going to take a walk while your clothes dry, be sure to set a timer so you return before the dryer stops. Some impatient locals will have no problem taking out your fresh clothes and plopping them on top of a dirty machine. It’s also impolite to keep other people waiting for a machine.
Your laundry tips
Have any advice or questions about doing laundry in Paris? Share with us in our comments section.
Also in our guide: If you’re also looking for advice on affordable places to sleep while you’re in Paris, be sure to read through our editors’ picks. Each of our picks has been visited, inspected and approved by EuroCheapo. Read more in our Paris guide and be sure to see our advice on where to stay during your visit.