A new Barefoot Blogger friend is moving to Uzes and wants some expat tips. Just like me, she’s tossing away most of her worldly possessions in the US and she’s starting all over in France.
There are a few things I learned my first year here that seem to be helpful to my friend. Things that were real challenges.
Like bedding. Bedding is something I just couldn’t seem to understand. First there’s choosing a mattress. There are more configurations and iterations that you want to know. Just when I got that figured out, there were the sheets, pillows and other confusions.
Picky-picky. Yes, I know I’m picky. Finding the right sized linen for a bed seemed to be important. I should have thought about that when I purchased the two 80x200cm beds instead of 90×190 for the guest room. Who knew there are no linens to fit. The guy that sold them to me certainly must not have known I’d have these problems. Or maybe he did. I couldn’t understand everything he was telling me in French.
Fitted sheet: Housse The Conforama store in Nimes where I shopped had a bedding section that seemed to answer my prayers. Good thing because the Castorama store was a bust. (“Rama” is a popular store name, apparently) Conforama had fitted sheets for 80x200cm beds! See for yourself. The package says: 2 x 80×200.
There was even an illustration of two beds. Voila! I was beginning to figure it out. Since the beds are meant to be pulled together to make a queen-sized bed, they must sell the sheets together.
I could hardly wait to get home to make up the beds. Not so fast. The fitted sheets were sewn together in a section down the middle to fit the queen bed! Now what did I do? I cut the housse in half! So what if there are raw edges. My guests would never know!
Duvet: Couette Never learned French, never owned a duvet. Two pitfalls for living in France.
Duvets have never been my thing. To me, here’s something untidy about a bed that’s not tightly put together. (Remember, my mother was a nurse.) Therefore, the joy of stuffing a duvet into it’s cover is an art I never mastered. Like learning to speak French. Here duvets are the norm. Top sheets are not. So to make up a bed properly in France, I had to convert.
Duvet cover: Housse de couette. Like other bed linens, the couette and the housse de couette come in a gazillion sizes and permutations. Amazingly, I chose the correct size for the two guest room beds. Slipping the couette into the housse de couette was a breeze. Especially because there’s a tiny slit in each side of the housee de couette. Right at the top. It allows you to stick you hand in to grab the end of the couette. Perhaps the American version of duvets have a similar design. If not, the French have something on us.
Oreiller vs. Traversin. OK. Another head-scratcher. An “oreiller” is an ordinary pillow. Easy enough even though they are all shapes and sizes. It’s the an odd-shaped “pillow” named “traversin” that’s a puzzlement.
I’ve seen similar in the States, but they’re everywhere here. The most common size is like the big one shown in this picture. The smaller ones I bought from the same man that sold me the beds. Maybe when he told me I wouldn’t find sheets for the 80cm beds he also mentioned the same problem for a small-sized traversin.
The large one you can decorate quite nicely with ribbons and bows on the ends.
The smaller ones you hide under a stack of pillows so the edges don’t show. Yes, I cut a large traversin cover (taie) in half.
If you’re thinking of moving to France, I hope these photos and descriptions of bedding you might encounter are helpful. If you wanted to know a few obscure but important words in French, I hope you’re pleased. For others who just like to hear about the trials of an American expat in France who speaks no French, you see why nothing’s easy!