When my landlady decided to renovate the bathroom, with its pink tiles and draw-string flush toilet, the first casualty was the bidet. "You don't use that thing?" she asked rhetorically, her mouth twisted in disgust. "Quelle horreur
!" The bidet was invented in the 17th or 18th century and is the inspiration for the modern automatic self-washing Japanese toilet. But contrary to popular belief, the bidet was never intended as a substitute for toilet paper
, but a place to wash your privates -- not to mention your feet and hand-washables -- between bathing.
But in the age of space-saving and quick showers, the bidet is seen as increasingly old-fashioned and outmoded in the country where it was invented. French DIY forums are full of questions discussing how to remove them, and French contractors will tell you that the demand for a bidet is less and less common with younger people. Right now in Paris, someone is ripping out a fixture of the French salle de bain, leaving it to languish on a sidewalk or in a courtyard as seen here.
- Kristin Hohenadel blogging from rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France. She can be reached at kristinh @ apartmenttherapy . com