Sunday, August 10, 2008

Le Bidet

Bidets (bee-day) are interesting and controversial fixtures. If you've traveled in France, you've no doubt encountered one. Or two.

Our very own bidet.

When I first came to France, back in 1981, I remember some of my fellow Americans remarking that bidets were disgusting, horrible things, and that they didn't want to so much as look upon one, let alone use one. And I wondered, use it for what? I had no experience with this thing.

Over the years I've come to understand the bidet, and have used it both for its intended purpose and for other things. For example, it's a great place to wash out underwear and socks when traveling. A bidet also comes in handy for chilling a bottle of wine, if you have access to ice in your hotel, and you don't need to block up the bathroom sink. At home, it's a great place to pre-soak certain laundry items before they go into the machine.

As it turns out, our house in France is equipped with a bidet. Ken and I have talked about it. He once suggested that we get rid of it and perhaps replace it with a toilet, so that we can have two in the house.

I'd prefer to keep it. I like the fact that we have a bidet. It says "France" to me. I use it, not only for washing out things, but, from time to time, for its intended purpose. And I am not ashamed.

I am posting a poll today about bidets. You'll find it in the side bar on the right. Answer truthfully, if you dare.


  1. I never really considered bidet's disgusting, but just a nice little relic of the past I guess, although I'm sure they are still useful, and you've mentioned many uses I never even thought of before!

  2. I used to love to tell my students about it just to see which ones would squirm. When I took a group of students to Europe, it was funny to hear the questions about the mysterious porcelain fixture in their baths.

    Last spring, I received the information on my host family. I would be chez Bidet. Apparently, there are a lot of Bidet family members in Angers.

  3. I vote to keep the bidet!


  4. Our plumber, Monsieur Rougemont, told us a lot of people are having bidets taken out of their bathrooms. Some replace them with toilets (which are generally in a separate WC room in France, as ours is) and others just want the extra space back. He also said people are taking out their bathtubs and having shower stalls put in in their place. We decided to keep the tub when we had our shower stall put in.

  5. Hilarious! Next I want a post and poll on les toilettes à la turque please.
    I know someone who's cat sleeps in the bidet, and they are generally acknowledged as great for rinsing out swim suits and washing your feet in.

  6. For once I didn't get hungry while visiting your blog ;p

    I've seen a Bidet but never used one. Funnily enough I was also reading about them today in a biography of Marie Antoinette that I'm perusing at the moment (trying to get cultured in preparation for our trip to gay Paree later this year)

  7. You stole one of my topics before I had a chance... Well, the early bird gets the worm. And I'm a lazy s.o.b. so it serves me right.

    Unfortunately we removed ours; initially to provide space for a washing machine and ultimately because that is where I wanted the shower. Oh well. For the traditional "French toilette time" it's back to wash rags and the sink. E-gads... did I say that?

    And by the way... Americans who make jokes about the French being "less clean"... uh, who is that thinks a swipe with a piece of paper is enough to make every thing smell nice!

    Potty talk potty talk. The 4 year olds would love it.

  8. A bidet is also a small riding horse.
    Here's one of many variations of a French children song:
    "A cheval sur mon bidet,
    Quand il trotte il fait,
    Prout, prout Cadet."

  9. all, it's funny how these subjects tend to elicit so much interesting commentary!

    Thanks to all who've taken the poll. I know that viewing the poll results is a bit difficult, so I'll tally up all the results and present them in a new post next week.

  10. I was away for a few days. I'm so happy not to have missed the bidet subject. My Montreal sister renovated her bathroom years ago, and got a bidet. This si a very unusual item in the New World. In the family, we (the sisters) all laughed. We thought it was a bit of snobism but I think we were envious! I renovated my own washroom for old age safety: bars/handles/showerchair. The shower head can be brought down to the chair level.Often I use it for the intended purpose of a bidet. No shame in cleanliness.

  11. I have yet to ever own my own place (eternal migrant), but on the list of my "ideal" accoutrements in my first home, I have always considered the need for a bidet -- a great luxury. Meanwhile, the list also features a urinal, a window in the bathroom (and WC), and making the wires for the speakers disappear into the wall.

  12. I've just installed a Bidan Turbo - toilet bidet seat with warm water and warm air that replaces a regular cover and fits to every commode.

    You can find out more here:

  13. that bidet seat is kinda big you know

  14. Wow washing clothes there actually sounds like a really good idea, especially when you're traveling :) Unfortunately, some bidets are not like that and is simply attached to the toilet. I won't wash my clothes there haha!


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