Monday, April 13, 2015

Paris 1: Les Douches, la Galerie

Entrance to Les Douches, la Galerie

As a student in France in the 1980s, I was always fascinated, and a bit perplexed, by the many municipal bath and shower facilities I saw -- especially in Paris.

For some reason or another, I even ended up using one once -- I think a youth hostel I was staying in only had toilets, not showers, and we were guided to the city showers.

I thought they were a thing of the past, but before writing this post, I learned that there are still 17 operating municipal shower facilities in Paris. There is even an official video about them on Daily Motion (all in French.) And according to the newspaper Libération, their popularity is on the upswing, as users include people trying to save money any way they can, including on hot water.

Be that as it may....

...I didn't start my Easter weekend in Paris off with a public shower. My husband had scoped out a photo exhibit of shots of New York, so we headed off to Les Douches, La Galerie

It was an interesting show, albeit just enough to whet one's appetite for photos of New York City. I was especially interested to see some photos by the mysterious Vivian Maier, and hadn't realized that this gallery had housed her Paris exhibition in 2013

No doubt here as to what this place used to be

It was fascinating to see how this gallery has kept its "public shower" atmosphere. 

The New York photo show is open until May 22nd, and entrance is free -- but showers are not included.


spacedlaw said...

Many old Parisian apartments did not have showers/baths (just a sink) or room to install one (or a washing machine for that matter - which is why there are so many laundromats too).

Susan said...

Here in the Touraine there have been a couple of recent demolitions of the public bathhouses (Luynes I think was the most recent). I suspect there will soon be a movement to save the ones which are left, just as there obviously was to save the older fours banals (communal ovens) from earlier generations. I can understand the rise in popularity -- in the summer when we swim every day we use the swimming pool showers rather than shower at home :-) (That is until the current pool manager decided he couldn't be bother sorting out the lack of hot water...)

Sarah said...

That's a lovely entrance. I didn't know there were so many municipal bathes still operating in Paris.

There is or rather was, one in Montpellier but it's long since been turned into a restaurant called Les Bains. :)

Alana said...

My parents, born in 1914-1918, grew up in NYC apartments that did not have private bath facilities. There were many public bathhouses in NYC of that era - for reasons of necessity. Enjoyed your post.

Sara @ Simply Sara Travel said...

This is so interesting! I didn't know that there was a converted municipal shower that is an exhibition space! (And it's really not far from where I live!) Thanks for writing about this - I'm in process of moving to NYC, so perhaps this will really get me excited about the move. #AllAboutFrance

Katie Zeller said...

I had no idea there are, or ever were, public showers. How very practical.

Betty Carlson said...

To all -- on my recent visit to Albi, I noticed that they still had functioning municipal showers!

Kate, as I said I became aware of this when I was a student here, way back when!

Sara -- The gallery is interesting for its setting, but quite small.