What’s up with shower curtains (or lack of thereof) in France?

(asked by Sue from New England)

I have just returned from two-months with my fiancé in Brest and noticed something at his mother’s house and at the apartments of his siblings – the lack of shower curtains.

Why is this? When I asked my fiancé if anyone was worried about water damage and he just smiled sweetly and gave me the Gallic Shrug.

Can you shed some light on this? Of course he said that he will not object to our having a shower curtain, he just wants me to be happy. But now I am curious!

Thanks in advance and thank you again for your entertaining and informative blog.

Seriously Sue, I have no idea…
Every shower I’m more or less familiar with in France has shower curtains or shower doors or shower something on them.
So, I really can’t answer your question.
Maybe that’s a Brittany custom, after all I’ve never been to Brittany (well, I’ve been when I was 5, so that doesn’t really count), and I know they have pretty unique habits there.

I mean, sometimes you won’t have curtains with a bathtub, especially if there’s a separate shower in the room. Now that you mention it, there wasn’t any curtain to the bathtub/shower of one of my girlfriend’s parents house in college, which always perplexed me.

No really, I can’t answer that question.

If anybody has an answer or an explanation, they’re welcome to intervene.

More Questions Answered:

Frenchman Written by:


  1. Eli
    August 23, 2009

    OK whenever I have been in France if there is only a shower it has curtains or sliding doors. On the few occasions I have been lucky enough to have a bath tub (heck I am Scottish and we bathe!) with a shower attachment there has never been a curtain or any way to stop the shower flooding the bathroom.

    Worst hotel I ever stayed in had a very small bath tub (knees under chin) with a shower attachment but no curtain etc so it was either flood the room or dunk in a tub meant for munchkins!!!

  2. Lola
    August 23, 2009

    I once stayed in a French home where there was neither a shower curtain or curtains on the window in the Bathroom.
    The Bathroom faced a Church (the entrance of a Church no less).

  3. Lola
    August 23, 2009

    ha ha ha :), it was in Asnieres, Paris.
    I too thought that it was just a French thing.

  4. Nathalie
    August 23, 2009

    My experience is mostly Paris/Ile de France, and the south, but I can't see any particular regional trend. Maybe more generational, with older people's bathrooms/older bathrooms, especially those without 'proper' showers, just those shower attachments on the taps, not as likely to have them, and more likely to have bidets. You just shower a little more carefully - it's perfectly possible not to flood the place. (And some old bathrooms, like some swish new ones, are kind of set up as 'wet rooms', with tiles and a drain in the floor, so water damage isn't an issue.)

    I certainly don't think shower curtains are considered as Absolutely Necessary as in the US.

  5. Jake Dear
    August 23, 2009

    We've stayed in about 50 hotels throughout all of France, and we have noticed this (lack of a curtain, or any other effective way to keep shower water from going all over the place) in about half of them. It's amusing, but not a big problem for a visitor. (If I were the building's owner, however, I'd be worried about water damage under the floor.) Another interesting thing: A general lack of window screens.

    — Jake ( http://parisandbeyondinfrance.blogspot.com/ )

  6. Nathalie
    August 23, 2009

    I think Jake Dear might mean those mesh screens Americans cover their windows with to keep out insects etc when the window is open …?

  7. Jake Dear
    August 23, 2009

    David, yes, I love the ability to swing open a large window and its shutters and let the air enter the room. But Nathalie is right, I had in mind screens that, especially at night, keep out mosquitos, etc. For example, we've spent weeks at couple villas in Italy, and a nice estate in the Dorgodne (my blessed father-in-law paid for the entire family, what a fine fellow), and each night in the intense summer heat we were set upon by squadrons of mosquitos drawn to our room. It made me think of opening a screen (and shower curtain) business there . . . .

    — Itchy Jake

  8. veroarrow
    September 5, 2009

    Sorry to change the subject, but I think I'm living in one of those old apartments you were talking about. My host family's bathroom has a bidet and a tub with taps and a detachable showerhead. Definitely no shower curtain or door in sight. I'm so used to standing up when I shower I don't understand how I can wash my hair and rinse; then, wash the rest of my body and rinse without having to either turn the water on and off or setting the shower head down and having it potentially spray everywhere soaking the rest of the bathroom. What to do?

  9. David "the Frenchman"
    September 5, 2009

    You can:
    1. set a shower curtain up.
    2. as you're with a host family, you can ask them how they do.
    3. this tub is against a wall right? you can direct the water flow towards the wall when you shower, that will limit the amount of water that spills on the floor, but I'd consider option 1 and 2 first.

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