A Slower Pace of Life

A couple of weeks ago, we attended a vernissage (an art show opening) at this little chapel-converted-to-a-gallery, which is just outside of town. The featured artist is named Kathryn Holford, and she currently lives with her husband (a novelist) in La Cressonnière — the home we used to rent when we lived here before.

We loved talking with Kathryn and her husband and we bonded over the delight of living in such a special home, and unexpectedly falling in love with this particular part of Normandy. Her husband commented that the people who live here are by-and-large content and happy — and I agree. It’s a sweet life here.

Our town, Argentan, is not a well known tourist spot and people often ask us why we aren’t in Paris, or in the South of France, or a more popular spot, or a bigger city — and we find it a bit hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t been here. We fell in love with this area and we fell hard.

I think one of the things we love (though it for sure takes getting used to) is the slower pace of life. For example, the hours of business. I can’t speak for Paris, or other regions in France, but this is what business hours are like in Argentan:

-Everything is closed on Sunday.

-Many services are closed on Monday too.

-On the days that shops and services are open, they close from 12:00 noon to 2:00 PM for lunch. To be clear, this isn’t just small mom-and-pop shops, it’s even big brand places like Orange (which is the French AT&T/Verizon) or big clothing stores, or the car dealerships.

-Stores and services close for the day at 6:00 PM. A few might stay open until 7:00 PM. And this means the big grocery stores too. If you haven’t done your grocery shopping by 7:00, you’re out of luck.

-Restaurants are open from Noon to 2:30 PM, and then again at 7:00 PM until 9:30 PM. If you’re wanting a late lunch or early dinner, your best bet is a bakery. They open early and stay open until around 6:00 PM — though by 2:00 PM, they’ve likely run out of things like sandwiches or quiche that can make a quick meal (people here just don’t do late lunch or early dinner — they eat at specific times and that’s it).

-The gym Ben Blair joined opens at 9:00 AM, and closes at 8:00 PM, on Monday through Saturday — except for Wednesdays when it opens at noon. There are no classes or work-out options before work or school — the first classes begin at 10:00 AM.

-The open air farmer’s market is just on certain days and for limited hours.

-There are exceptions. Like the grocery stores are often open through lunch. And the local bakeries and pharmacies will each take turns opening on Sundays — because bread and medicine are essentials!

And even with the general times I listed above, stores and offices each tend to have unique hours. So you really have to think about what you want to get done, and plan for it, and take your time. There aren’t many rush options, or last-minute options. You have to slow down, you can’t be urgent about everything. Today, you can stop at the farmer’s market, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to visit the bank.

The hours aren’t set up with consumer ease being the priority, they’re set up with quality of life being the priority.

It all feels a bit more civilized, you know? There are a lot of customs and practices in place to protect your home life, your time with your family, and your personal life.

Another example of the slower pace of life is how laundry is handled here. French homes often don’t have dryers. In fact, our current Airbnb doesn’t have one. And my closest friend here, Caroline, who is a mother of four, doesn’t have one and never has.

The laundry process? You wash a load, and either hang it outside, OR, if you don’t have a garden, or the weather is wet, everyone has drying racks you can set up inside the house. So you might have them in your living room for a couple of days as your clothing dries. At our Airbnb, the washing machine is in a barn/garage/utility room connected to the house. We have the drying racks set up there — there’s plenty of room — and don’t need to bother about the weather.

Depending on the material and thickness and weather, items might dry within a few hours, or they might need to dry overnight, or they might need 48 hours+. And yes, there’s a huge energy savings from not using a drying.

After items are dried, almost everything goes under the iron. The air drying makes everything a bit crispy — almost like built in starch, and the iron shapes it right up.

Not using a dryer slows down the laundry process significantly. And not just the drying time. Hanging each individual item to dry on racks takes quite a bit longer than throwing everything into the dryer. And the washers are smaller, so you do smaller loads.

The whole process simply takes longer, so there’s not really a last minute laundry option. If it’s 10:00 at night and your teen needs something washed for the next day, you can spot clean it, but that’s about it. You have to slow down. You can’t be urgent about everything.

Also, it’s a long enough process that it’s not worth washing something casually. Obviously certain things, like underwear and socks, get washed after one wear, but for everything else, you really consider whether it needs a wash or can be worn again. On that note, it’s quite common — especially in preschool and elementary school — for the kids to wear the same outfit every day, all week long. They eat neatly, keep their clothes clean, and just keep wearing them. They may even change out of their school clothes and put on play clothes as soon as they get home.

There is a laundromat in town, with medium and large machines, and big dryers, but it’s not cheap and it’s closes at 8:00 PM. The price is about $6 for a medium load of washing, and $11 for a large load — and the big dryer is about $1.75 for 10 mins. For reference, it takes at least 30 mins to dry a towel.

One more example of the slower pace is our experience buying a car — which we have chosen but still haven’t picked up yet! We found the care with an online search, and drove to Caen (about 40 minutes away) on a Wednesday to test drive it. The next day we emailed them to let them know we wanted purchase it and asked when we could pick it up. That was two weeks ago — and it won’t be ready for us to pick up until tomorrow. Hah!

Everything just takes more time here. You’ve got to slow down. You’ve got to keep your to-do list reasonable. The whole pace of life here just slows everything down. My family life in America is so busy, busy, busy, that it definitely takes a while to get used to the slower pace here — not being able to run out to Target or the grocery store at 9:00 PM is an adjustment. But we really love how protected our family time is.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. If the business hours I describe above were implemented where you live, would it affect your shopping habits? Would the laundry situation drive you crazy? Or does the slower pace of life sound appealing?

120 thoughts on “A Slower Pace of Life”

  1. Oh, you’ve piqued my interest in life in the US with this post! I’m in Australia, and things like the farmer’s market, the drying rack for laundry, and the closing on Monday are all very familiar to me in Australian suburbia. Do US families use a dryer for all their clothing? Winter isn’t winter without our laundry hanging in front of the heater to dry faster! We still have a dryer, but it’s maybe used once a week in winter, and we go for the entire summer without using it (for obvious reasons.)

    You must be having a wonderful time, being back in France! Can’t wait to hear more about your French house :)

    1. I’m sure they exist somewhere in America (because it’s a big country), but I knew no one personally who didn’t use a dryer for most or all of their laundry. Hand-washables (like lingerie or wool) would be an exception. But otherwise, everything gets thrown in the dryer. Something else that’s different laundry-wise: people in the U.S. use drycleaners far more often than I’ve seen in other countries. Drycleaning here seems to be a rare and expensive service.

      As far as shops being closed on Monday, that’s not a thing in the U.S.. The exception might be hairdressers. Since they often work Saturday or Sunday (or both), I know several who used Monday as their “weekend”.

      1. Our favorite local bakery (we’re in a suburb of a major U.S. city) has short hours on Sunday and is closed Monday. That’s it. I think there are a few chains that profess their (psuedo-)Christian morals that are closed on Sundays, like Chik-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby, but as I don’t support their social views, I don’t shop there and am not certain if that’s the case for all locations.

        1. I think Normandy with its no-business Sundays sounds good.

          Being older and having lived in various US regions, I’ve seen how local traditions and various faiths influence business. As a child in a major city, many Jewish shop owners closed on Saturday. In the 70’s, while living in California’s “Inland Empire,” a predominance of Christian 7th Day Adventists in our area meant a lot of shops also closed on Saturday. In both cases, everyone else respected their cultures and worked around it.

          Currently we live in a valley where few businesses are open on Sunday–maybe as few as 20%–but again, it’s accepted. Really, from my perspective, none of these adherents have appeared “pseudo” in their commitments. It looks to me like they want to live with the courage of their convictions, and for me that’s admirable.

    2. I live in northern Indiana, and have always been the only person I knew (except the Amish) who did not have a dryer. I hung everything either outside or on the enclosed back porch. In the winter the porch laundry would freeze-dry, and usually needed a fan.
      On a -15F day in January of 2018, hanging a load on the porch, I finally decided I am too **** old for this, and went out and bought a dryer. I still only use it in bad weather, but my monthly utility bills went up noticeably.

    3. Flori Christensen

      Our family is living in Italy for a semester and many of these things ring so true for me! I worry about life just going back to “the usual” busy busy busy when we return to the US

    4. In my area in Ohio, not only do families use dryers for all laundry, but our HOA won’t even let me hang up a clothesline outdoors! Pretty silly! I’m just looking for a place to hang beach towels and the occasional sheets/duvet on because the smell of sun-dried linens is heavenly!

    5. I live in a small town in upstate New York. Here, many older people hang out some clothes/sheets/etc. but not things like underwear, socks, or towels. Clothes definitely last longer and generally fit better if they’re not put in a dryer. My family hangs about 3/4 of our laundry. In the summer, we have a long clothesline outside, but in cooler weather, we have racks inside (we have a huge solid wooden one that was purchased from the Amish and it’ll probably last forever). We do dry sheets in the dryer in the winter, since we don’t have a space big enough to dry them inside. We actually don’t iron much though.

  2. I live in a flat (uk) and have also lived in France. We are a family of 5 and have never owned a dryer! We have a pulley in the kitchen where we hang the wet clothes, hoist them up to the ceiling where they dry near the open window. Most flats in Edinburgh have them. In the summer months we have a washing line in the garden. In the South of France where we lived laundry would dry in a couple of hours outside. I think this system, while more time consuming, must save a lot of money and is so much better for the climate.
    Congratulations on your move to France – what a fantastic opportunity for your children to experience life as Europeans! I find it so interesting hearing how you find life here from the perspective of an American family.

      1. I had a pulley installed recently and it’s a laundry game changer. It holds a large load but it’s totally out of the way! I really enjoy using it to hang most of my laundry because it is so convenient.

    1. Air drying like that is better for the climate and better for your clothes (I’m an american who only has recently discovered air drying bc it’s really not a thing here!)

    2. This makes me wonder if we (the US) are the only country that uses dryers constantly and for all laundry. I don’t know anyone who hangs all their laundry. I hang a few things that are too delicate to dry, but the thought of living life without a dryer seems crazy to me. But then we, as a nation, have never prioritized the environment or energy savings (unless it’s to sell “energy-efficient” washers and dryers.)

      Any other countries out there that live this way? Or are we singular in this?

  3. I recently moved to Rome and our apartment has no dryer. I’ve gotten used to it, but I lost one of my daughter’s socks when it fell two stories down to the balcony of an empty apartment. I can see it but can’t get it back. If someone lived there it would be a simple thing, now the sock mocks me when I look out the window. I am also experiencing some of what you described with the store hours etc. It is not quite as limited as you described here in the big city but definitely different from California where I came from. I’m not sure if I like it yet. I would love a Target run at the moment.

    1. Poor little sock!

      I remember that same thing happening when we lived in Greece (22 years ago!). One of Ben’s t-shirts was drying on the balcony and not secured properly. The wind picked up and blew it onto a rooftop below — and we never could recover it.

  4. This is a really interesting question. I noticed the same thing when I was living in Spain (and, to a lesser extent, the UK). Another way of looking at the “slower pace of life,” though, is that it seems to be set up on the expectation that every family has at least one adult who does not work full time. Not doing things last minute means that you have to spend a lot more time planning family life, and find ways to be available at times when many people are supposed to be at work. In Spain, the custom was to shop every day and cook the main meal at lunchtime. But the two hour lunch break is only enough time to come home from work and eat, not enough time to come home, shop, cook, eat, clean up, and return to work. The assumption is that there will be someone at home cooking for you.

    None of this is bad, necessarily–in America I think we are often in denial about the time it takes to run a house and a family life–but socialized gender roles being what they are, I think it is a problem that the slower pace of life is so often about work that women are expected to do, and that is so often incompatible with paid work.

    1. “in America I think we are often in denial about the time it takes to run a house and a family life”

      Totally agree with that! And it’s certainly possible that the expectation here is that every family has one adult that doesn’t work full time. But interestingly, I haven’t seen that in action. (At least I didn’t see that here when we lived here before — I haven’t been back long enough to do much observation yet.)

      Outside of brand-new parents, every adult seems to have full-time work here — either outside the home or on their family farm. From what I can tell, the difference is maybe what “full-time” looks like here compared to the U.S.. In the U.S., a full-time job is at least 40 hours per week, and closer to 80 if you live in New York or San Francisco. But the hours aren’t as intense here. Like if your business isn’t open on a one weekday (which is common here), that’s a great day to head to the grocery store or do the laundry, etc..

      And there seem to be less errands to run overall for the average family, and a longer time frame (like weeks instead of days) to accomplish those errands. We simply find life to be less intense here — and not because we’re choosing to opt out of things. In fact, I don’t know that we’ve opted out of anything. There are just less things to do, you know?

      As far as gender roles go, they seem to be as entrenched here as they are in the U.S.. (Sigh.)

    2. Just my two cents… LONG time French resident… the difference in the French way of viewing things is profoundly different. It is a question of EVERYONE having basic rights… “socialism “here means making sure as many people as possible have access to a decent quality of life. We think everyone deserves to go home at a “normal” hour! Grocery stores and every kind of store don’t need to be open all night! There are exceptions, but is a huge deal in France to require an employee to sacrifice his family/personal life-for unreasonable and unnecessary hours. You have to have a special authorization( based on your tourist based location for example ) to be open on Sunday or late hours. This is a country with free childcare, and every woman can much more easily reconcile family and professional life. Obviously there are some secteurs that require late hours, but it is simply views as not an option to make someone work at times that are out of whack with everyone else’s regular rhythms.There is a general attitude that if you open the door up a little, it sets a precedent and it’s the beginning of the end… and I wholeheartedly agree!

      1. “Everyone having basic rights, making sure as many people as possible have access to a decent quality of life.”

        I really like that! What a fantastic perspective to base society on. To me, that means a person who may not work a high paying job (like a checker at a grocery store) has some protection from exploitation from working insanely crazy hours. Does this apply to school kids too? Early start times (7:45) are draining my children. They are so exhausted. I like the idea of respecting the rhythm of life. Life is a marathon and the pace needs to be reasonable. I wonder how respecting this rhythm and protecting personal life affects health. Is physical and mental health better in France than in the hectic U.S.?

  5. Such an interesting post! We live in a small town in western Canada. The businesses are open and closed at different times and you get used to going to the library on this day, the bank at this time etc. As for laundry we have always hung the bulk of our clothes on drying racks.
    I grew up doing this and continued with my own family. The dryer we have is a about 15 years old and my very handy husband fixes it when needed. If fact for the past week we’ve had no dryer because the belt needed to be replaced and it really doesn’t impact us. We have always loved and appreciated the slower, enjoy the moments kind of lifestyle.
    Have a lovely day Gabby!

  6. Like Lexie above I’m also in Australia (and also have lived in the UK) and find the laundry comment fascinating. I think the majority of people in Australia have driers but I don’t know anyone who uses one as the main way to dry the washing. They’re terrible for clothes and expensive to run. Obviously being American, its the norm for you but I actually think Americans (and possibly Canadians) are the odd ones out using driers for everything.
    As for being told at 10pm by your teenager that they need something clean in the morning, never fear!! I wash plenty of items last minute (because, yeah, I’m not the most organised person haha) and hanging it on a hanger somewhere quite open usually does the trick :)

    1. Hahaha! I’m guessing the humidity is different where you live. The clothes I put out 24 hours ago are still damp. : ) And the wash cycles are looong. At least longer than they were on my machine in the U.S.. The shortest cycle on the machine we’re using is two hours. So starting a load at 10 PM is no good for me. That said, the clothes do come out very clean!

      1. Good point about the humidity!! I live in one of the driest parts of Australia so that would definitely help! Maybe once winter comes the heating might at least speed things up for you. Fingers crossed :)

  7. Currently I think I would find those types of limited access difficult to deal with. Going back to what one commentator has already stated – the assumption appears to be that someone in the household has the flexibility in their schedule to run certain errands at certain times.

    How do you think you and your family would handle it if both adults in the house had jobs that required them to be in a set workplace for a set amount of hours a day? I know from comparing my parents life, both self-employed and myself, always having a job, while they worked as many or more hours than me, they had pockets in their day to take care of things that I didn’t. I either had to take time off or if possible delegate/pay some one else to help.

    1. Interestingly, from what I can tell, all working adults (whether married or single, parents or child-less, blue-collar or white-collar) have flexibility built into their work schedules.

      I think of my friend Caroline, who is a single mother and works full-time at the library in a high position of responsibility. The library is closed on Sunday and Monday, and for two hours during the middle of the day, and it doesn’t have late hours on the days it’s open. Caroline has four kids and a full-life, but definitely has pockets of time to take care of those random life-tasks we all have.

      The demands of a full-time job here are different. And the social safety-nets (like healthcare) are also very different and not tied to employment. Oh. And where we live, there’s essentially no commute and no traffic. So the total work day looks and feels different.

      1. It is interesting to read the comments. I am French and grew up in France. Both my parents worked full time and the errands were done at the weekend or , occasionally at lunchtime or after work (if there was time). Is there really a need to go shopping in the evening or on Sunday? You just learn to organise your life so that you run your errands when the shops or services are opened. I love it when I go back to France and have a free Sunday for family time. I prefer it when shops are closed on Sundays because it gives you more time with your family. It can be frustrating at times if you are used to have services available 24/7 but it actually frees your time. You are not tempted to run errands 24/7. I always feel guilty if I use Sunday for errands. Workers should be entitled to have Sunday free for family time, if not a two day weekend. It doesn’t make you less productive to work less hours. On the contrary, it is better.
        Something I have also realised when living abroad is why having a cleaner in France is seen as a luxury. Cleaners are more expensive in France because when you employ a childminder or a cleaner, you pay for their health insurance, pension and holiday pay, which is only fair. My British mother in law worked as a cleaner for years but only got paid cash for the hours she did but has no pension.
        We don’t use dryers in France so much for many reasons. One is the lack of space in homes. We don’t own as many clothes but we also don’t wash clothes as often.

  8. I think I would love it if stores and restaurants weren’t open all the time. It would lend itself to less business and more time (I think) to connect with family and friends.

    1. We really do get much more family time here than we do when we live in the U.S..

      Not that it’s perfect here! (Sometime I’ll have to tell you about the spiders. And sometimes I want things to move faster! Like buying a house. Hah!)

  9. I think you hit the nail on the head – in europe there isn’t just one particular thing that makes the pace of life slower, it’s lots of smaller things that all add up to a different pace. we lived in amsterdam for 3 years and i would be astonished at how long it took me just to get through my day and it was difficult to put my finger on “one” reason, but reading this post makes me realize it was lots of little things that were contributing factors. i really enjoyed this post!

    1. It took us 3 different appointments to set up our bank account here. And we still haven’t received our debit cards. Hah! Not having the cards forces a delay on other things. So it all just sloooooowwwws down.

  10. For several years we were part of something called the Irish Children’s Summer Program, where Catholic and Protestant children were brought away from Northern Ireland to a neutral place (South Carolina USA) so they could get to know each other without the political barriers back home. I learned quickly NOT to dry anything the kids had brought in my drier because it all shrank! We actually had to replace some items that were too small to be usable. So that’s how I learned that dryers were not common housekeeping items in their culture.

  11. This post intrigues me and has me thinking about how “busy” our lives can be in the States! I know we’re accustomed to it and that it’s just how it is, but I’d love to read studies on how it all comes out between the different lifestyles. I don’t see how both parents could work outside of the home and make it work without a nanny or au pair of some sort. Definitely some food for thought in this post. Thanks!

    1. I don’t know of any au pairs or nannies in our area, but I do know there is excellent, affordable childcare available. And state-run Maternelle (pre-school and kindergarten), which starts around age 3, is full-day and staffed by super-well-trained teachers.

      When we first moved here, Betty was four and Oscar was five and they both attended maternelle and LOVED it. In fact, they attended maternelle at the same school they attend now.

      1. Yes, it is much easier for both spouses to work full time in France. France does make it easier for mothers to go back to work when they wish as childcare is much more affordable than let’s say the UK. It is very common for mothers to go back to work when the baby is 2 months old. There are many affordable options depending on your income. I personally preferred taking a one year maternity leave without pay (I was overseas). The school day also finishes later (4.30pm) and there is before and after school club so you can have a 8-5 job and still be able to drop your child before heading to work and after you finish work. You can also employ a child minder to do the after school pick up. Back in the 80s, my father would drop me at school (Primary) at 7.15am and my mother would pick me up at 5.30/6pm from school.

  12. Pingback: A Slower Pace of Life – wildebee

  13. I am curious about how people manage to run errands when they work outside the home: are they able to take care of some of these things on their lunch breaks? Are employers more flexible with allowing people to swing by the bank or post office? I imagine culturally, they’d have to be, but I’d love to know what your experience is.

    We’re from Portland, OR, visiting friends in Providence, RI, and even that regional change within the same country has given us time to rethink our daily habits/routines. Providence is a bit of a food desert, at least this area, so grocery shopping requires more thought than I’m accustomed to (at home I have half a dozen grocery shops within a mile). The library has restricted hours. Parking in urban New England is a whole other thing, too — the car is much more difficult to access without a driveway!

    One constant for me, while traveling, is how comforting it is when I can get to a national/international chain. The first time I went to New York, at 22, my best friend and I had to go to Trader Joe’s. Never mind that we could have eaten at hundreds of other places; we needed something familiar and comprehensible in order to make it through the trip. Same here — we’re coming to the end of a month in Providence, and in the first week, a trip to the Target in the suburbs was incredibly reassuring in its familiarity. We’re headed to Montréal next week, and I’m curious to see where I find that kind of touchpoint for myself!

    1. I should interview a bunch of the professionals we interact with here (teachers, and bankers, and car salespeople, and real estate agents, and grocery store clerks, and dozens of others) and find out how they manage their weekly errands. At first glance it seems like there are errand times built in for employees just based on the hours the shops and services are open — almost every shop or service has at least one full or half weekday where they are closed for business.

      I would also love a reminder on how parents handle the school vacations (there are four different 2-week vacations during the school year, and a 2-month summer break).

      And I hear you on the comforts of a familiar chain. I saw an Office Depot in Caen (about 40 minutes away) last week and I was so pleased! We didn’t go in, but if I’m feeling homesick, I figure I can check it out.

      1. In France, workers have far more weeks off than in the US. They have a least 4 weeks of paid holidays. Town councils offer ”centre aere” (day camp) at an affordable rate (according to your income) on Wednesday (when schools are closed) and during school holidays.This is how parents managed. Then you have summer camps (also according to your income) or childminders. Although I don’t live in France during the school year, I send my daughter to centre aere during the Summer holidays as it gives her an opportunity to do fun activities with other children (she is an only child) and a chance to practise her French with children her age.

      2. Hi, the comments are so interesting! I live in France and I’m French, I work full time and so does my husband. I live and work in a city like Caen where the shops are opened unitl 7.30pm. So yes I use my lunch hour and the weekends to run errands etc but as you pointed out we have more weeks off. I have 5 weeks plus 2 other one (because I work more hours than the average amount of 35 hours per week).

        The kids have 2 months of summer vacations plus 6 weeks during the school year. So we use these weeks off to spend time with our kids and take care of them. We also have “centre aere” that is super helpful and we often ask grandparents for help too! :)

        We have no shops opened on sunday afternoon except for those dedicated to gardening or DIY stores like home depot (you can go to the supermarket on sunday morning).There was a big debate in France to have more shops opened on sundays (believe me it was intense!sunday = rest day in France), it is now the case in Paris for instance but the rest of the country remains “more quiet”. I actually think it is a good thing, it is also a way to protect work-life balance for those who work for these companies.

      3. Yes, please do those interviews! I am very curious! I would also love to know more about school — what a typical day looks like for start/end times, recess, lunch and the overall school year schedule like the two-week vacations. Four weeks of vacation like the comments below sound so much more reasonable than the U.S. It took me years to get to that level of vacation — the typical 10 days (two weeks) is absurd.

    2. Beth: Sadly Target went bankrupt in Canada but you’ll be able to check out our version of Walmart. Main differences I noticed when we used US Walmarts is that in Canada we always have a grocery section of Indian food (I guess maybe it’s a Commonwealth thing – try the Patak’s butter chicken sauce!) and full fat dairy but we don’t have guns or alcohol. On another note, if you’re into food, I saw this the other day and now I need to visit Montreal soon: https://iamafoodblog.com/6-best-things-eat-montreal-right-now/ Enjoy your trip!

  14. I miss this pace of life so much. My family and I lived in Northern Spain for a year and it was very similar to your description. Now I’m back in the US and everything is rush rush rush – I’m constantly trying to multi-task and constantly exhausted.

      1. What are we doing in the US that makes our life fast paced? I would love to slow down, but I already don’t shop at the times mentioned. I feel like kid activities keep me so busy after school, but it doesn’t seem fair to not let my kids try any activities. How do they manage those in France with school getting out so late?

        1. I think it has to do with the fact that you plan all of your activities including work closer to home, the more traditional set-up of towns and villages that were not build with the car in mind make that possible. Also 6 weeks vacation as we have in Germany, free childcare and a 35 hour work week make it possible!

  15. Totally off topic here, but have you ever taken your family to Puy du Fou? The historical theme park about two hours below Paris? If you haven’t it’s well worth the road trip. We took our family of five this summer (kids ages similar to yours) and everyone agreed it was a highlight of our 6 weeks in Europe. It was INCREDIBLE. Just beautiful in every way. I highly recommend!

    1. PS – this post about the slow pace of France is bringing me back to our summer. Oh to have a real baguette in my hands again. . .

    2. Hmmmm. Is it in the Dordogne region? I know we went to a historical theme park with Stephmodo back in the day, but I think it was aimed more at little kids. I’ll definitely look up Puy du Fou!

      1. It will not disappoint you, so amazing!!! It’s near Nantes. After experiencing it I am absolutely shocked that more people don’t know about it. And it was super affordable. I hope you do it!

  16. Absolutely loved this post! Thank you for sharing the details of life in Normandy. I lived in Europe for a few years before I married and loved the pace of life. As a woman, wife and mother of six, I have continued with a slower pace as we have raised our family in various states within the U.S. I’ve always felt just a little odd because of my mindset but it is very validating to hear that entire communities still embrace this way of living. My mind, body and spirit are more balanced when I’m not in a rush and our family life is happier too. We have chosen to live on a single income so that one of us is available to accomplish the home tasks during the day and keep our evenings more open for family time. We have to be more deliberate with our resources, but for us the benefits have been worth the effort. Enjoy your time in France and thanks again for sharing life from your vantage point.

  17. It’s so fascinating, and it sounds so relaxing. But, as a mom of three that works full time outside the home, I can’t help but think this system must rest upon having one parent at home? Interesting financial and feminist implications, if so.

    1. Sadly, France seems to have the same feminist issues we have in the U.S..

      A few people have commented that this system must require one parent to remain at home, but that’s not what I’ve seen in practice. The slower pace seems to be due to things like having excellent, highly trained, affordable, full-time childcare and preschool options (with meals included! so no packing lunches), and their jobs require less work hours overall, and their medical coverage isn’t tied to their employment, and they have little or no commute.

      I’m sure there must be some stay-at-home mothers (or fathers) here, but I don’t think I know any personally. Now I’m curious — I’ll have to ask around at school pick up and see if I can get a sense of how many parents are not employed. (At school pick up, which for elementary school kids and younger is at 4:40 PM, I see lots of fathers and mothers, and lots of grandparents too. I’m not aware of any nannies.)

      1. I was born and raised in France but left at age 19 to live in NYC and London for the next 20 years. We moved back to central Paris just over a year ago. I have had to get reacquainted with my country. A couple of points:

        1- I do work part time from home I am the one managing the household and the kids. It would be possible for me to work full time outside the home, but then the children would be at school/in childcare from 8.30 to 6.30 every day and I believe my quality of life would be much poorer, alongside the health of my marriage (partly because I get resentful when exhausted and my husband is simply not around enough to lighten the load). In that alternate scenario, the children would still be all my responsiblity as my husband works much longer hours (yes, even in France, especially in Paris, it’s actually quite common not to get home until 9 p.m.) Plenty of my girlfriends do manage to work outside the home(the vast majority of my friends work full time) but they also nearly all hit a wall at some point. Because managing a full time job, kids, keeping a house and organising the social lfe of the family while holding your marriage together without falling apart is a tall order. What has struck me, however, is that it doesn’t seem an acceptable conversation to be having here, in the sense that French women are very attached to their independent status and no matter how exhausted don’t believe they have the option to do less (often for financial reasons but also because of social pressure).Of course they complain about the mental load being all theirs but they very rarely seem to consider the option of staying home, in part because having a university degree here and chosing to stay home is very much frowned upon. It is a sort of social suicide.

        2. The number of extra curricular activities that the children engage in after school is rising here, especially in affluent families. It’s still not as bad as it was in Central London but it’s definitely a creeping issue. Many children finish school at 4.30, are in other activities until 6 and then get home and still have to do homework, shower, have dinner etc. I have chosen not to have my children in after-school activities for the simple reason that I cannot handle it during a school night. I want to come home without a rush, give them time to do their homework while I prepare dinner and then shower and bed. We have stuck to an ealier bedtime than most French families (bed at 7.15, ideally asleep by 8) because I think extra sleep is super beneficial to kids. Here a normal bedtime tends to be 9 or 9.30 but plenty of my friends will occasionally make exceptions and think nothing of putting their kids to bed at 11.30 if there is a dinner to attend or theyr’e coming back from the countryside weekend etc. However, teachers have often commented that the children are too tired.
        3. Family life here is still less centred around the children. Birthday parties do not involve the whole family needing to stay for the duration of the event and there is no obligation (in fact no one does it) to invite the whole class and spend a lot of money. Sundays are still usually days used to have lunch at grandparents or aunties and basically do nothing except eat and rest.

        There would be so much more to observe but I will stop here for today. I love reading about your experience and seeing our way of life through your eyes.

  18. Life in England is somewhat similar. The fist time I visited my husband’s family in London I was shocked that everything was closed on Sunday. And at Christmas time, you may be out of luck for days if you forgot an ingredient for a special meal. I love the laundry rhythm in England. My mother in law has an airing cupboard. A closet built around the water heater. All of the laundry off the line goes straight into the airing cupboard to soften up a bit before ironing. And everything get ironed, including underwear😊.

  19. I’ve just moved back to the US after four years in a small city in Switzerland, I lived on the French side of Switzerland so the customs and shop hours are very similar. At first when I moved back to the US, I loved know I could make a quick Target run anytime and I LOVED my big washer and dryer after years of a tiny washer and line drying (I lived in Australia, Turkey, India and Brazil before Switzerland – nearly all with a tiny washer and no dryer!) But now that I’ve been back to the US and the novelty has worn off, I find myself missing the slower pace. I understand the pros and con’s of each culture and appreciate them – but the quality of life that comes when you slow down a bit is very hard to beat.

  20. I’m an American who doesn’t use the dryer for everything! But I know I’m not the norm. I live in the Midwest and I feel like my life is so much slower paced than my relatives who live on the coasts. I’ve found that as my children have gone to school full time it has been harder to keep certain things like family time untouched by activities. We have to work really hard at it. I think there is a culture here in America (some places more extreme than others) that busy is better and do more and more and more.

    On your moving to France post I saw you considered Detroit. I live in a suburb and we love it! We are fortunate to live in a place that has people of many backgrounds. It isn’t without its major issues but I can’t see myself moving to a more cosmopolitan place—life is so family friendly here and we have the chance to live and go to school with people from all over the world. I’m enjoying your posts about France though…I will consider ways to slow down more.

    1. As an American who grew up in the Midwest and also uses the clothes line often, I feel maybe this is a regional thing? Perhaps it’s the farmer/rancher old fashioned habits drilled into the area? Growing up there was always room in the yard for a clothesline and a rack in the basement for drying.

        1. Ha, not a midwesterner at all and I mostly hang dry all my clothes! It’s how my mom taught me to do laundry and its stuck with me. It is true that your clothes last much longer without drying! Raised in DC Metro area with parents from California and rural Tennessee. Totally realize I’m not the norm!

    2. I am also from the US (East coast)and do not use the dryer for everything. I hang most everything to dry expect towels and underwear and sheets. The color stays better, nothing shrinks, and the clothes last longer, not to mention the electric bill savings. We have a shower curtain rod in our laundry room and I use that plus the shower curtain rod in one of our bathrooms and hang the items on hangers.

  21. We have a bit in common in that we are both two time American ex-pats who came back to the same town after a return to the United States. I had a severe case of reverse culture shock, but probably my worst shock was when I found out that someone had organized a basketball tournament for the day after Christmas. I. WAS. AGHAST. It seemed to me that the general American sentiment was an expectation of a right to my time, which is simply unheard of here in Germany. One of my favorite German words is “Feierabend” which is, literally translated, a celebration of the evening. People will wish you a “Nice Feierabend” because the expectation is rest and enjoyment after a long day of work.

  22. jacquis sakellaropoulos

    I’m an American expat living in a similar paced culture- and it’s definitely an adjustment getting used to this type of lifestyle. American cuture is so much about convenience, and very consumer oriented. While I at times miss the convenience factor, I have come to really appreciate, and prefer, this more intentional type of lifestyle. For example the everything closed on Sunday thing seemed cazy to me at first, until I realized taking shopping off the table, makes you spend more time with family, friends or just yourself. I’m in the States every summer, and on Sundays just the fact that I know things are open reorients my day. I think oh I’ll just pop in there for a second…and then before I know it I’ve spent more time and maybe a bit more money than I intended, my kids feel more dragged around and crankier because it’s yet another day where I say ‘no we cannot buy that’, etc.. none of these things is such a big deal per se, but having a day where I know we won’t have to deal with any of that, where being a consumer isn’t an option is so refreshing on many levels…

  23. Having just come in from being outside and hanging laundry, I sat down to read your column. I live in the United States and I own a fully functioning electric dryer that sits right next to my washing machine. I love being outdoors hanging laundry. I find it a very contemplative time and I can connect with nature. Taking the time to slow down and feel your environment on a multi sensory level is very in your nurturing. Yes I am being more environmentally careful by doing this, I am also enriching myself. I look forward to hearing more about how your family is living in France.

  24. I can’t imagine this being a slower pace of life, if everything you own has to be ironed! It seems like all that family time in the evenings must be spent around an ironing board?

    1. My parents take it in turns to iron while watching TV. I learned to iron as a teen and that was part of the house chores we all did. We don’t iron everything. We don’t wash clothes as often as you do in the US anyway so there must be less to iron. Are families smaller too?

    2. As someone who grew up in the US drying clothes on the line…there are tricks to not having to iron everything. Vinegar in the rinse cycle is a key. : )

  25. I am an American living in rural Scotland and the pace isn’t as slow as where you are but it is still an adjustment and there are many conveniences I miss at times. It’s funny how people can see the same things so differently because most people here don’t have or use dryers either but I don’t really understand why except for the fact that it costs them more money in electricity and Scots are really frugal. But with things becoming more energy effiecient all the time I can’t imagine it costs that much. It is such a cold, wet country and so to rely on hanging your clothes up seems so inefficient to me except when we want to dry things that are too large for the dryer. It always seems funny to me that things have been invented to make life easier and people choose not to use them…like automatic cars (people here seem to wear it as a badge of honour to have never driven an automatic car before) or using a dryer for their clothes. We already have to use a dehumidifier in our house to keep it from growing mold everywhere and if we were constantly hang drying everything it would take forever for things to dry and we’d always be surrounded by our laundry. With 3 messy kids and a husband we usually do a load of laundry a day. And I hate ironing so avoid that if at all possible. I love having a slower pace of life and am glad that a lot of the busyness of the US we miss out on (like celebrating every holiday by decorating and having parties etc, or kids being in sports teams that take up tons of time) but also want to use my free time wisely and not use it up doing things inefficiently that could be done in a quicker/easier way. It’s always so fun and fascinating to me to see the different ways people live. Thanks for sharing your family’s journey with us. I started following your blog when you first moved to France and so it’s been fun to see you all return.

  26. I grew up in the Midwest with a clothesline but all my adult life with allergies negated such method for drying clothes. So for 30 years our has used two drying racks for laundry except towels and sheets. It reduces electricity consumed, is good stewardship, extends color and life of clothing, and puts humidity in our air. Plus. I’m not running constantly to the dryer in hopes of not shrinking something, dividing the damp from the dry, etc. Win. Win in my book.

  27. I’ve commented a few times on clothes lines in the US – I think it’s much more common in the midwest than on the coasts. That might have to do with space factors, heritage, and pollution levels.

    As to the slower pace of life – sounds HEAVENLY. But it would definitely require a change of work practices as well. As an example: my husband and I both work (we’re both engineers) and we have 2 kids (one in upper elementary, one in middle school). My husband leaves the house by 6:15 for a 40 minute commute, works 7-5:00 with a 1/2 hour lunch, and gets home about 5:45. That’s not because he wants to work that long – it’s required by his company. I have more flexibility so I work 8-4:30 or 8:30-5 (depending on how fast I can get the kids out of the house in the morning) with a 1/2 hour lunch. I have a 15 minute commute in the winter that goes up to a 1/2 hour in the summer (tourists in rental RVs on windy roads with no passing lanes). We live in a small (800) town 40 minutes from a larger city (100k). We are fortunate to have a grocery store and hardware store in our town but of course they are more expensive than the options in the city. Everything else is geared towards tourists. We are fortunate we have a Boys and Girls Club that stays open until 6pm after school (and is open on the random days off throughout the school year as well as the summer). If stores all closed at 6pm – there would be NO WAY for us to both work and have time to do the random life things that need to be done unless they were all open on Saturday and we could pile it in then. And that doesn’t even take into account our time constraints with sports/dance/other activities!

    And of course you haven’t even touched on the paid time off European countries consider necessary for their employees! It took me 15 years before I earned 4 weeks of vacation at my current company. And if I use it all…I get the side eye for being not committed to my job. The US is really so broken in so many ways.

  28. I love reading this recap of European life. There are so many similarities between countries, as well as differences. I have lived in the Netherlands within a 5 minute walk from the German border for 13 years. I like comparing and contrasting the two. In Germany everything is closed on Sundays, other than the hospitals for emergencies. In the Netherlands, many smaller shops are closed but big shopping centers, grocery stores, etc. are all open. That means the border cities in Holland are mobbed with Germans on Sundays.

    About the washing machines, whenever we travel further south we see the no-dryer situation. But here in Holland, it is so wet that it would take days to dry clothes in some parts of the year. So we do have drying racks, but also dryers when it is too wet!

    A tip (that you’ve probably already figured out) from living for years in places without dryers: If you are in a rush, place the item of clothing needed on your space heater or common European wall heater. It will be dry even faster than the dryer. This is especially helpful if all your underwear are wet. Just be careful to watch it.

    Will you do a recap of housing sizes and use of space in European versus American homes? I would be particularly interested as I am planning to build in Spain, and I find what would be a “normal” size house in the US is a particularly large house here. Thank you, and I love reading your reflections on French life!

  29. Forgot to add that everything in both Holland and Germany, except for restaurants serving dinner, is closed by 6pm. Except on Thursdays, when at least in my local town everything including the bank is open until 9pm. Maybe to give people working all day a chance to go to the bank and do shopping?

  30. So fascinating! It doesn’t sound too dissimilar from my life in the U.S. I hang clothes to dry to save money and electricity, and I don’t miss the dryer at all. I find it relaxing and meditative to hang laundry (on regular clothes hangers on a ceiling-mounted rod) while listening to a podcast, and as a bonus, my laundry room is neater (no mountains of clean laundry waiting to be folded) and it helps humidify our house in the dry winter months.

    In my small town, all of the “downtown” stores and restaurants are closed on Sunday and Monday. The chain stores outside of town – Walmart, fast food, etc. are open of course. I think the posters who said that life in France is maybe more similar to the pace in the Midwest or small town USA hit the nail on the head.

    Kids wearing the same outfit to school all week sounds awesome! Imagine not having to pick out outfits every day, and all the laundry it would save!

    I’m loving these posts about the little details about everyday life in France – so interesting.

    1. I am so glad I have a washer and dryer so my kids can wear clean clothes every day with minimal effort! Their clothes never still look completely clean after a full day of playing, eating, art projects, etc. I studied abroad in France in high school, and the only times I recall my lovely host parents getting angry was when their young daughter spilled anything on her clothes at dinner. If I did that, maybe my kids would be neater, but there would certainly be a lot more yelling and shaming.

      1. Hahaha this comment was great! I have 4 kids and I have to agree about lots of yelling and shaming (and helicoptering) if I had to keep my kids’ clothes clean enough to wear all week. I washed clothes less often when I only had 1 or 2 kdis because I could keep better track of what was worn when and how clean/dirty everything was. Now I find it’s just too crazy to do that.

  31. Same experience living in the Netherlands. Stores were closed Sunday and Monday (except bakery, and because the Dutch love flowers, the flower shop and, if I recall, the chocolate shop) My little town had two of those! At first I was always freaked out about shopping hours and then I realized I could just walk over and pick up something for my meal. Everything was a stroll around the corner. The vegetable shop (green grocer) would give me the produce just perfectly ripe for today, the fish shop had something fresh to add. Once I realized how amazing this was, I began to appreciate the quality of life available to me.

  32. We live in a small town in the NC mountains, our economy is driven by tourists. Everything is generally open all weekend to cater to out-of-town guests and then many shops/restaurants are closed on Mon/Tuesday or Monday and Wednesday. We have the big box stores that are open all the time, several of the grocery towns in store are 24-hour stores. I wouldn’t mind a slower pace of life but catering to tourists drives everything.
    We typically run our clothes dryer several times a week since we operate a small vacation rental space. I have several drying racks that I set up on our screened porch in the warmer months for our clothing and bring them inside in the winter. We still have to use the dryer for towels and sheets and bedding — those would take too long to dry in our humid climate.

  33. This is so fascinating to think about. I often bemoan the frantic, go-go-go state of our lives and dream of living simply, slowing down. And then, when I have little moments of nothing, an afternoon to just read a book or take a nap, I end up feeling badly. Like I should be more productive or that time unscheduled is time wasted.

    Part of this is the fact that I run my own company. There is a hustle culture among CEOs and entrepreneurs that is really self-congratulatory and entrenched in my circle. I think it’s toxic, and I’m also not quite sure how to get out of it. Short of moving to France, ha!

  34. The other thing that I always notice as being different in the US from Europe is just how big everything is in the US. Huge houses, cars, shopping malls, grocery stores, portion sizes in restaurants. Oh and the absolute lack of recycling in so many places. My kids were appalled when we visited last summer.

    1. This! This! From the croissants in the airport to the SUVs, I knew I’d lived in Europe to assimilate when they all seemed insanely HUGE in the US. Oh yeah, and the malls too. I described one mall to my family as ” If you strung 7 or 8 of our mall (very large European designer outlet destination mall) together, maybe it would cover the same space. I’m not sure bigger does equal better, although I felt like a child in a amusement park walking through that mall.

    2. Are you saying that there is less recycling in the US? We live in Florida but visited London last summer. We were shocked to find almost no recycling receptacles. We would lug all our empty recyclables in our backpacks until will got back to our VRBO building at night, which did have bins. I’d assumed that Europe would be way ahead of the US on this, but we didn’t find that to be the case at all- at least in London.

      1. In France, recycling is pretty standard procedure and has been for a long time. I would say at least fifteen years ,but probably more like twenty. Our garbage service picks up our recyclables as well as regular garbage. Until pretty recently, they even picked up the glass! We had three separate bins issued by the city for each home. We no longer have that pick up and have to bring our glass to drop off.

      2. I think in general it is hard to find bins in London. I noticed that, too, and when I asked about it, I was told it was because the IRA used to put bombs in bins in the ’70s.

      3. As a previous poster mentioned, you will find that London is different from most of Europe that way. We were in Nashville, and it was horrendous how everything was being thrown in the garbage. We live in Canada and every week we get recycling and compost pick up and every other week we get garbage. We are also limited to 2 bags per household. Just our norm and what my kids expect.

  35. I live in Brisbane QLD Australia and much of what you are describing sounds very familiar!

    Lots of families have dryers here but actually using them regularly is something I have never come across. I think there is an accepted social view that dryers are lazy and bad for the environment. This is a state that is hot and sunny most of the year so it makes sense that things dry outside.

    Regarding shopping hours, a few years ago our major department stores and grocery stores started staying open until 9pm on Saturdays. They still close early on Sundays. During the week all small/specialty stores close around 5pm, except for Thursdays which is ‘late night shopping’ in the suburbs. On ‘late night’ most stores open until 9pm. Confusingly, ‘late night’ in the CBD is Friday so I guess, theoretically, you could go shopping two evenings a week.

    This is a city of 2.3 million and we have one 24 hour grocery store, located next to the airport!

    Might seem strange to people from the US but I think QLDers are just used to it – if you want groceries on a Sunday evening, too bad. Wait until tomorrow.

  36. Quite fascinating to read you, because I’m french. I thought every body was doing the laundry the same way ;) we don’t own a dryer, I think it’s funny to hang your clothes to dry inside the house. I think we are not afraid to be unefficient (and so, I hardly iron, you have to choose your clothes carefully)! But it can get on your nerves: the bank is so slow! admin is generally slow… and it’s true, you don’t find shops open on sundays, it is so relaxing! I love all that about France; I would fight for other issues but it is truly a country that works for the well-being of a person.

  37. American, here, who does not use a dryer! I have a few friends like me in Portland where we live, but we are not in the majority, I’m sure! Portland always wants to be a little European, so…. I don’t iron though! I hate ironing! My kids wear crunchy clothes and they’re teenage boys so they don’t really care. I am pretty careful to buy no-iron dress clothes for my husband and I and anything dressy for the boys.

    I *love* hearing about your life in France. The first time around and now the second!

  38. Drying clothes like that anytime but summer does not sound fun at all. AND I have experience with it in France. As for it being a space issue to not have a dryer, um…. the clothes rack takes up A LOT of space. Like do you have a huge yard or a dedicated basement for this endeavor?? As for comparing rural life with US fast-paced San Fran life, it’s obviously not the same. My friend in Paris suburbs who is a dentist in the city has a live-in aupair and the same commitments to extracurricular that people in the states do. Luckily, her mom is capable of getting on the train from 4 hours away to take her kids to dance class when she can’t. She does have the freedom to work fewer hours though than someone trying to be a successful dentist in US would. I don’t know why. Is it that she is carving out that time intentionally or are there social structures in place.

  39. I’m from a farm near a small town in Canada. I grew up hanging all laundry in summer and using the drier in the winter, but once I moved to a city after high school almost nobody hangs their laundry. I travelled to New Zealand after university and found it very similar to what laundry in France is like, high humidity and nobody had driers.

    As for business hours, small towns in Canada are similar to France (although might have one day a week where the bank is open from 11-7, or the gas station is open Sunday mornings for farmers to fuel up their equipment, etc.). I was also from a farm that was 15 minutes from the nearest town and 45 minutes from the nearest city, plus my family was cheap (pretty common in rural Canada) so any trips took some planning. Town stores usually have limited food options, and restaurants or other businesses are usually only found in bigger towns, so people either cook or keep quick frozen/canned food on hand for last minute options, or cook in bulk and freeze a few meals. My parents still only go into the city a couple times a week max, so errands and appointments have to be planned out. And if you forget something or don’t have time to get something done, you do without until the next trip or borrow from a neighbour.

    That said, city life in Canada is pretty similar to the US, 24 hour pharmacies/McDonalds/Tim Hortons are pretty common.

  40. We live in Oakland, by the lake and do not have a car. We think about which errands and activities we want need to do and definitely take it slow. I work part time and my partner and I are homeschooling our child. Each day is like an adventure. I know we will eventually move but it’s been a nice place to live in the Bay area without a car.

    Since living here we have used drying racks to avoid paying for the dryer. A few times a year we end up taking a pile of larger blankets to the laundromat in our red wagon. We probably look a bit odd but it works well for us. I don’t usually need to iron our clothes but I imagine everyone looks more stylish in France because they do.

  41. I am just loving the reactions to the dryer comments! It’s very divisive!

    I grew up in Ireland – surprisingly very humid and wet – and although we had a dryer we rarely used it. The fear of the energy bill! We would be days waiting for clothes to dry on radiators and draped across everything.

    I live in sunny Western Australia now and again own a dryer but rarely use it. In the last few months I got into the habit of using it – started working full time again! – and recently my Mum came to visit from Ireland. She saw me using the dryer and nearly killed me! Look at the massive clothes line you have outside and the gorgeous sunshine! Old habits! I have noticed a massive difference in our energy bills and although it is more work, there is nothing like getting into a bed with fresh sheets that have been aired outside. The fresh smell!

    Excuse the ramble, I like everyone else obviously finds the dryer situation fascinating!

    I agree with your attitude around slowing down. I lived in South Korea for quite a while and found some cultural things so different and sometimes confronting. It was a great lesson in ‘my way isn’t always right’ and learn to adapt which it sounds like you already do! Loving following your journey, thanks for sharing.

  42. This sounds incredibly appealing to me. I think they have the right idea on quality of life. As far as the laundry goes, I find ironing things wet from the washer to be the best way (if I’m going to iron anyway). The clothes iron beautifully and then they dry more quickly too.

  43. Appealing!!!!! I seem to remember when I was younger that most things were closed on Sundays in the States. I’m not religious but I think it would be nice to get back to that to just slow things down.

  44. This is all so fascinating! My husband is military so we have lived in each region in the States. We never had the opportunity to live outside the States with children. I wonder about all the busy-ness with the children. This week has been crazy for us with 2 schools having back to school night, along with after school sports and medical appointments. Are after school activities comparable to that of the States? I am also curious about other countries! Thank you for the interesting perspectives!

  45. Interesting post! All the comments about the expense of using a dryer have me wondering how much people are paying. Maybe it’s because I have a gas dryer, but it was broken for 3 weeks and I didn’t notice much of a difference in my bill. I live in Southern California where I just assume our utilities are more expensive than in other regions. Our gas bill was $20 last month. Seems very reasonable for drying a daily load of laundry, 5 hot showers, using the gas stove, etc. I lived in Europe for a time and I think the visual clutter of the indoor drying racks was what bothered me more than the time factor. I’m glad you have a dedicated room to set them up in. The pulley systems also seem ingenious.

    1. Very appealing! I struggle with the pressure to be busy all the time. It makes me feel stressed and drained but it has always seemed inescapable. Interestingly, we now live in our RV full-time and we keep ending up places that have stores that close early and don’t have the standard big stores like Target or Walmart. It’s nice to suddenly not have a choice but to slow down. I even get stuck having to do ALL laundry by hand and hang it on a rack some weeks. Weirdly pleasant.

  46. Love reading about your return to France. Would you consider doing a post about the house buying process and how it compares to the US? I’m curious about costs above and beyond the listing price- closing costs, annual taxes, etc., especially the requirements for non-French/EU citizens. It’s one of our someday dreams to buy a little place in a small town there.

  47. We used to live in a large Canadian city and clotheslines were not permitted due to local bylaws stating they were unsightly or some such nonsense . Now we live in a smaller city and I set one up at the side of my house hidden from view. So ridiculous.

  48. Je suis française donc le rythme pour moi est normal, il faut juste s’organiser et à courir après sa vie on risque de la perdre ! Heureuse que vous soyez bien dans mon pays “imparfait” mais si attachant. Bonne et heureuse vie ici.

  49. Wait, you meant you might have time to read a book for more than the 10 minutes in bed before you collapse into sleep? What a novel idea! My brother is French and lives in Switzerland, but was born here in America. Even though I try to avoid the lure of the US “busy life” as much as possible because I think it’s BS, I fall prey to it time and again. I do wish to live in Europe again and just be. Enjoy!

  50. I have lived in the US without a dryer before- with a baby in cloth diapers! Hanging laundry is time consuming, but I love it and if you can hang outside, it smells wonderful. In winter I used to hang it inside on a rack in front of the furnace- drying the laundry and humidifying the apartment at the same time.

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