What Is French Toilet Paper?

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French toilet paper has some differences from the variety we may be used to in North America. But what is French toilet paper?

Is it essentially the same as what we use? Let’s take a closer look.

Photo of a pink toilet paper in pink background

So, What Is French Toilet Paper?

Instead of the traditional bleached toilet paper rolls we often see in homes, in France, toilet paper often comes in a pink hue. Pink toilet paper is referred to as “PQ”.

This is a short term for the word “papier cul”, which translates to the fairly straightforward “bum paper”.

Historically, in France, toilet paper was primarily used by the well-off classes. In the 1960s, a new product called “le papier toilette” was created and marketed to the masses as a hygiene must-have.

While early rolls of French toilet paper were thin, today’s versions are much thicker and more absorbent. Some say they are even softer than American brands.

We aren’t sure how this defining pink color became the standard for French toilet paper.

But it’s likely that since most tissue products were originally white, the pink color was chosen to distinguish them from other types of paper products.

It may have been an aesthetic choice to use colored toilet paper. Pink is less stark than white and may have been seen as more inviting.

French toilet roll tubes are slightly smaller than in North America as well. They measure about 12 centimeters in diameter, compared to the approximately 13-centimeter North American toilet paper rolls.

Colored toilet paper began appearing in North American stores in the early 2000s. Today, you can find French-style toilet paper in a range of colors, including blue, green, and purple.

The cost of colored toilet paper is slightly higher than white toilet paper because it uses pink dye, which costs more.

When Was Colored Toilet Paper Invented?

Image of a red toilet paper roll with women from Chinese dynasty background

The first recorded use of colored toilet paper was in sixth-century China during the Tang Dynasty.

It is said that Empress Yang Guifei, who ruled from AD 75 to AD 88, demanded that her toilet paper be red and perfumed.

Colored toilet paper made its way to Europe in the 1600s. At first, it was a luxury item only available to the rich.

In 1712, England’s King George I had red and gold toilet paper made for his royal household.

It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that colored toilet paper became widely available to the public in Europe. Even at this time, it wasn’t used by all, but it was becoming well known outside of the royal courts.

While we don’t know for sure, it’s likely that the pink color of French toilet paper was chosen because it was seen as a happy medium between the stark white and the more decadent colors associated with royalty.

Whatever the reason for its color, French toilet paper is now a staple in homes across France. And, it’s slowly but surely making its way into homes in North America as well.

The Bidet in France

Photo of a white toilet seat, a bidet and a stainless steel toilet paper holder

The bidet is a common alternative to colored toilet paper in France. These small, basin-like fixtures are designed for post-toilet cleansing.

They use a stream of water to cleanse the area after using the washroom.

Bidets are often found in homes in France, but they can also be found in public restrooms, hotels, and other places where people gather.

While bidets may seem like a foreign concept to some North Americans, they are actually quite common in other parts of the world. In fact, they are often seen as a more hygienic option than toilet paper.

Bidets are often used in combination with “french papers toilette” or on their own. Many people find them more sanitary as well as more comfortable than traditional toilet paper.

What is Toilet Paper Called in France?

The term “toilet paper” is not commonly used in France. Instead, people often refer to it as “papier toilette” or “bum paper”.

It is also referred to as “le papier hygiénique” or “le papier toilettes”. As mentioned above, PQ is a common shorthand for “papier toilette” in France.

PQ is a popular brand of toilet paper in France. It is known for its softness and absorbency.

PQ is available in a variety of colors, including pink, blue, green, and purple.

Do the French Use Squatting Toilets?

Photo of a white squating toilet with light brown floor tiles

Another difference between France and many other western countries is the squat toilet. This is a type of toilet where the user squats over an opening instead of sitting on a seat.

Squat toilets are more common in France than they are in North America, but they are not used by everyone. They are often found in public restrooms and other places where people gather.

While squat toilets may seem unsanitary to some, they are actually quite clean. In fact, many people believe that they are more sanitary than traditional toilets because they allow for better cleansing.

There is also less physical contact with the toilet itself.

Squat toilets are not the only type of toilet used in France. In fact, many homes have both squat and sit-down toilets.

It is not uncommon to see a family with two or more toilets in their home.

Why Is Toilet Paper White?

When learning about pink toilet paper, you may become curious as to why we have white toilet paper in other parts of the world. While there is no definitive answer, there are a few theories.

White bathroom paper is bleached during the manufacturing process. This bleaching gives it its bright white color and also disinfects the recycled paper pulp.

However, it also makes the paper less absorbent and more likely to tear.

There are also health risks associated with the bleaching process. The chemicals used in the bleaching process can be toxic and cause health problems.

Chlorine can cause cancer, and dioxins can cause birth defects.

In recent years, there has been a movement to create more natural toilet paper. This toilet tissue is made from unbleached paper pulp and is free of toxic chemicals.

These papers are made from recycled materials and use processes that are less harmful to the environment. However, it is often more expensive than traditional toilet paper and can be less accessible.

Does Toilet Paper Have to Be White?

Phot of several toilet paper rolls in white, yellow, green and pink colors

This is more of a convention than anything else. There is no rule that toilet paper has to be white.

In fact, there are many colored and patterned toilet papers available on the market.

White bathroom paper is more popular because it is seen as cleaner and more sanitary. However, colored and patterned toilet paper can be just as clean and sanitary.

It all comes down to personal preference and the manufacturer’s preference.

Is There White Toilet Paper In France?

Yes, there is white-bleached toilet paper in France. However, it is not as common as it is in other parts of the world.

You are more likely to find colored or patterned toilet paper in France.

If you’re staying in a more universal hotel, you’re likely to find white toilet paper. However, if you’re staying in a more boutique hotel, you may find colored or patterned toilet paper.

Many people appreciate the cultural difference and enjoy using colored or patterned toilet paper while in France.

The toilet paper in France may also be scented. Some popular scents include lavender, rose, citrus, and peach.

Most toilet rolls that are scented will match in color. Scented papers are more common in public restrooms than in private homes.

No matter what type of toilet tissue you use, it is important to be respectful of cultural differences. France is a beautiful country with many unique customs.

Toilet paper is just one of them!

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, French toilet paper is not that different from toilet paper in other parts of the world. The main difference is that it is often called by a different name and is available in a variety of colors.

While bidets are more common in France, they are not used by everyone. Squat toilets are also common in France, but there has been a major transition to standardized toilets as well.

Now that you know a little bit more about toilet paper in France, you may be curious to try it for yourself.

If you are ever in France, be sure to pick up a roll (or two) of PQ. You may just find that you prefer it to traditional toilet paper!


About Emma

Hey there! I'm Emma. When I'm not wrangling kids I like to walk aimlessly around hardware stores and watch HGTV for hours on end.

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