« Bernard Loiseau | Main | The Trip South »

Bonjour from France

Well, let’s just admit at the outset that the lovely Laura Lee and I are wimps when it comes to time-zone adjustment while travelling. Thus, we have learned to always allow ourselves a couple of days to recuperate from the time shift. Wednesday, we left Birmingham at 5:30 p.m. and connected with a flight departing Atlanta (late) at 9 p.m. CDT for Paris. After a huge dinner with wine, etc. on the flight, we began trying to sleep at around midnight CDT. Three hours later, we were awakened with breakfast being served (we just had coffee) and just after 5 a.m. Birmingham time, we arrived in Paris. By 9 a.m. Birmingham time, we had arrived in the tiny Burgundy town of Saulieu. It was 4 p.m. here and we checked into our local hotel having only had a couple of hours sleep and no breakfast yet.

We tried to solve the problem by moving straight into cocktail hour, enjoying wine and cheese on the grounds of the beautiful little hotel Relais Bernard Loiseau. This was followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. local time and at 10:30 p.m. (still 3:30 in the afternoon back home) we were off to bed. We each took two Benadryl tablets and I slept reasonably well and was up by 7:30 this morning. The lovely Laura Lee tossed and turned much of the night and she is having breakfast now and getting past her grouchiness.

Our hotel is quite famous for its cuisine and its founding chef, Bernard Loiseau. I have been reading a little about his career and his tragic death by suicide three years ago. I plan a little post about him and this spectacular place tomorrow. We have a couple of days just to relax in this beautiful village before embarking on a 5–day bicycle tour of Burgundy. I will report in on the tour and let you know if it is an easier trip than dogsledding in Canada. But what I really want to talk about here is bathrooms.

The French seem to have some inexplicable urge to automate a number of functions in their bathrooms. My daughter Suzanne tells a story of staying in a completely automated hotel in France where there were no visible employees. She checked in by inserting a credit card into some machine that produced a room key. The bathroom was designed to be self-cleaning so that when she entered, it sensed her presence and turned on lights, etc. It was designed so that when she left, the door would lock and the bathroom would clean itself by spraying disinfectant soap everywhere and then rinsing down with hot water. Not knowing this, Suzanne opened the door to get something she had forgotten, and then closed it back. The bathroom, thinking she had left, locked it’s own door and proceeded to spray her down with disinfectant. Suzanne described it as being in a human carwash. She emerged later, completely cleaned and disinfected.

Lillee 001.jpgLaura Lee’s great grandfather invented a gadget he called a “rump washer”, something along the lines of a bidet which was still in the bathroom of her house when she was growing up on the family farm in Georgia. Here, our bathroom has some type of device called a “clos o mat” instead of an ordinary toilet. We first noticed that when one sits on it, the bathroom vent fan comes on automatically. But it does much more than that. It serves as a combination toilet and “rump washer”. If you press a start button before sitting on it, you can then press a switch with either elbow which causes a small sprinkler head to emerge in the toilet and spray water up to wash you off. Then, when you let go of this elbow switch, a blower comes on to dry you off. I haven’t actually used this device yet but I did try to figure out the instructions while standing above the toilet and the result was I got sprayed in the face, an instant cure for the grogginess of jet lag. I’ll continue to keep you posted on bathroom automation throughout our trip.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (1)

This log has to be the best entry yet! I started to crack up while reading it in the guest business center! So funny daddy!
The toliets here are not as exciting though, sad to report. The toliets do flush backwards though. I sat and watched them for a second, while trying to remember how they flushed in the States. Toliets are very interesting, but then again, so are countries.
I think it was wise to jump right into the cocktail hour when ya'll arrived....you need to begin to adapt the French culture! good job.
October 1, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlaura

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>