03 November 2007

« Isn't it beautiful? »

At the airport in Paris last Saturday, I met a woman who was traveling with a teenage girl. We were all waiting for hotel shuttles, and when those two Americans and I got on the same one I spoke to them. They were from Oregon, and the trip to Paris was the woman's present to her granddaughter for her 16th birthday.

The grandmother, who was about my age, said she had taken a trip to Paris 35 years ago when she was much younger and had loved it. She had probably built her wonderful, youthful Paris experience up in her mind, and I could tell she was disappointed with her three-day Paris visit this time. The city was busy and noisy, in her view, and crowded. "I think Paris has become the Los Angeles of Europe," she told me. It's hard for me to understand that comparison, since Paris is such a perfectly walkable city, but that's what she said.

Seen at the train station in Blois

At some point -- we were on the shuttle for 45 minutes -- the woman pulled out a thick pad of carefully folded-up pink toilet paper to use some as a tissue. She had obviously taken it from their hotel bathroom. She asked her granddaughter if she needed any. The granddaughter declined the offer, looking slightly embarrassed.

"Isn't this pink toilet paper pretty?" the older woman said to the younger woman. "I remember the first time I came to Paris, they had toilet paper of different colors in all the different bathrooms. It was so beautiful!"

I'm mostly posting on my East Coast travels blog these days.


  1. There's nothing like a good train station photo. For me, they bring back such good memories of travelling as a student on...what was it called...Eurocard? Europass?

  2. Hi Betty, it was called a Eurail pass, wasn't it? Do you remember all the different colors of paper in the bathrooms? I think I do -- yellow, blue, pink... It was like crepe paper though.

  3. Of course, it was called a Eurail pass and it was a thing of great wonder!

    Sorry I don't have any T.P. memories to share, though! I was always just happy to find any in a non-Turkish-style toilet...

  4. My favorite TP story happened in 1973 when we were staying on the island of Hvar in what was then Yugoslavia. Every evening our hotel would leave outside our door two distinct varieties of toilet paper for our choosing. One was incredibly soft and absorbent similar to what we were used to in the U.S., and the other was waxed paper. It was quite a debate deciding which to use!!


  5. oh my goodness...when my Grandma went to France for the first time (It was in the 70s and I was little) she brought me back a few squares of pink toilet paper. I seriously think that it was the beginning of my obsession with France.
    When I finally got to go for the first time, as an adult, I was so excited to look at the colors and scents in the TP aisle! :)
    (Purple is my fave!)

  6. My mother said when she just came back from DC she stayed at a hotel and a woman came to her room right when she checked in and said she was just there the night before and forgot a few things. She went into the bathroom and was there a few minutes then my mother heard a big crash.

    My mother went to the bathroom to find the woman had broken the tampon machine and was stealing the tampons. She glared up at my mother. Was she embarrassed? No, but my mother sure was. She was so embarrassed that she didn't report it to the hotel.

    I said you might get charged for damages you should have reported it. She said that of course she wouldn't get charged for damages, she already went through menopause, they couldn't possibly think it had been her. Mothers, someone has to love them.

    In case it wasn't clear, the connection was the embarrassing situation with the grand-daughter and the toilet paper. I do get carried away.

  7. Since we nearly always rent a private home, we always end up buying a lot of TP in France. I have tried both white and pink. Pink is best.

    Did we every have colored TP in the U.S.? I seem to recall pink here, too.


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