Using European Kitchen Appliances

We will be renting an apartment in Paris in late September 2013 so I have been looking on line to get some ideas about apartments. Some of the apartment listing describe "Combo Microwave Grill/oven" or "combination microwave" Also, they list combination washer/dryer. Does anyone have information about where I might find information on line about operating these appliances?

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
6030 posts

In the apartments I have rented they had instructions for how to their operate appliance. Just like here, how an appliance operates varies from one appliance to another.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
2894 posts

The apartment I stayed in also had all the operating instructions for all the appliances, including the bathroom shower which was phenomenal but complicated. Most likely you will have someone walk through the apt with you when you arrive and will cover all that with you. If not, there will be written instructions I'm sure.

Posted by Lo
1682 posts

Having rented several apartments in many locations, I agree with what everyone else has said. One tip I can give is to look closely at the pictures. If you can see the appliances, you can get a better idea of what you are up against, and you won't be surprised by an undercounter fridge or a washer/dryer that is really a washer with lines outside or a drying rack. This also applies to showers. Many listings will say there is a shower, but it might be a hand-held one down by the faucets rather than one on the wall you can stand under. My husband is a bear about this issue, so I have to carefully scan the pictures to verify the location of the shower head. It's a deal breaker for us. This is a little off-topic, but another deal breaker for us is if the bed is too low. We had an otherwise great apartment in Paris last June, but we had to literally crawl out of the bed. That was something totally unseeable in the pictures and unexpected by us.

Posted by Mary
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
35 posts

thanks for your comments. I will certainly try to be more observant when I look at the pictures!

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
2084 posts

Figuring out how to use the stuff is half the fun!

Posted by Cary
Hayden, Idaho, USA
128 posts

Be sure to take a temp conversion chart if you will be using an oven.

Posted by Cary
Hayden, Idaho, USA
128 posts

Be sure to take a temp conversion chart if you will be using an oven.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
3415 posts

I had a combo washer/dryer when I lived in London. It is a single machine that first washes the clothes and then dries them (no removing the clothes between the two cycles). Often takes a long time (mine took about 4 hours) to run. It worked fine for most things, but my sheets used to come out in a wadded, twisted mess. When you rent the flat, ask if they have English instructions in the flat. That can be useful. Sometimes you just have to guess how things work.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
1426 posts

My experience with French washer-dryers is that the dryer cycle runs in the laundromat down the street. Pictograms only work at Ikea. And the last apartment greeter was a student of English who may have known how to boil water but had no other experience with domestic skills.
Which is to say: Relax! You're going to Paris! Who cares how the microwave works, as long as you can save a few bucks by making your own breakfast coffee?

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1755 posts

My sister in the UK has one of those horrible washer/dryer combo...we couldn't put more then maybe 2 pair of jeans and a couple tshirts and maybe a few socks/underwear at a time. And yes, for ever to dry! I don't know how she does it with 4 kids!

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
5761 posts

Years ago, someone online called the washer-dryer combo a "boil and bake," because if you put it on the wrong setting, that's what it does to your clothes. They also explained that, unlike in the US, the combo machine in Europe is hooked up to the cold water only; thus, if you're washing in warm or hot, the machine has to heat up the water before the rest of the cycle starts, taking much longer than we're used to in the US.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
13903 posts

The washer/dryer combo is an interesting beast. Other than taking an absolute age to NOT dry the clothes, it uses an interesting process to do the drying. For the drying cycle it uses a very large quantity of water, nearly as much as the washing cycle. According to Which? Magazine here, the UK equivalent of Consumer Reports, they are extremely inefficient, slow, and very expensive to run both for electric and water bills. My parents had one and hated the thing. The other question you asked was about a Combo Microwave Grill/oven. We have one, a Panasonic, and it is the bees' knees. It does what it says on the tin. You can microwave, you can chaos defrost, you can grill (what you might call broil) with a heating element just below its ceiling, and you can use it like a convection oven. It even has certain programs where it combines certain of the features. It really does work, and it is a wonder. Best if they leave you the instruction booklet. We just had an apartment in Rome where the books weren't there and my wife had difficulty working out what special tricks the micro there could do.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
13903 posts

Oh, and because most Europeans and Brits are very energy conscious because of the sky high energy bills here all washing detergents here, or nearly all, are made to work well in 40 or even 30 degree water (C.). That's warm or cold, 104F or 86F. Expect the machine to have a setting for temperature.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2396 posts

What I think that can be more intriguing/puzzling are heating and shower operations, especially if your rental is fit with some ultra-modern stuff. Once I had a colleague complain that she'd stayed on the cold for 4 days in a rental in Amsterdam, only to myself finding out on its description folder that it is operated in a particular way of floor heating with a not-so-obvious dial near the exhauting controls. Showers sometimes are creative as well.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
904 posts

The first time I ran into one of these machines was in Spain. After much frustration I figured out the machine was malfunctioning! This was the only "foreign" that threw me for a loop! The biggest problem most folks have with the washer/dryer combo machines is overloading. I can wash a set of sheets but dry 1 sheet at a time. Some loads of clothes need to be split as well. Also never go straight from wash to dry - unless you only have 2 or 3 small things in load - you need to take every thing out after wash, shake it out and fold in half before placing back in dryer. This step makes ALL the difference the world. I live full time in a 40' motor home and have a combo machine I use all the time - love it!

Posted by Kim
1608 posts

Southampton said it -- forget trying to use a drying cycle in a combo washer-dryer (if the machine even has one, most don't). Dry by hanging or take to laundromat to dry. I hang most things to dry but always take towels to the laundromat and dry them for 20-30 minutes. Stiff towels are the worst!!

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2396 posts

Most appliances manufactured last 15 years or so were put on the market by global companies that export their products to many countries. An easy tip: if you are in doubt how to operate something, take notice of the model or series, the brand, and then search it on Google with "manual" "English". It usually directs you to the manufacturer's website with online manuals.

Posted by Mary
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
35 posts

I've had fun reading all the suggestions and comments. One thing is probably certain--I'll go to the Laundromat.

Posted by shirley
Toronto, Canada
381 posts

I've rarely found useful instructions in the apartments I've rented. Two suggestions: Write out a list of questions to ask the apartment greeter before you leave and have them ready to ssk when you arrive. This helps remind of what to ask. I agree with the other poster - googling the appliance often leads you to the instructions on line. Washers are different everywhere - in one I had in France, you had to manually move the dial after the rinse cycle to make the spin cycle start - this was to prevent wrinkling. And, it's a good thing I remembered that for another apartment I rented in Italy. I try to avoid the drying cycle in the combo washer/dryer units. Just hang everything to dry. (Ask the greeter where the drying rack is kept!)

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5691 posts

Well Darren, I just can't seem to fit those kitchen cabinets in my carry-on for my Ryan Air flight, so that's why I don't buy them while on vacation in Paris.

Posted by Brian
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
1 posts

Everyone else that has chimed in has hit the nail on the head. It is very right of you to prepare for the change as well. I made the mistake of jumping right in before when I went to London. I got acclimated with everything in the kitchen no problem, but it seemed like an extra hurdle I was not preparing myself for. That really just a shock to the system. Andre L.'s tip has got to be one of the most useful in my opinion. In the world of today, this really isn't a far fetched idea. With all the technology we have at our disposal, kitchen appliances should not be an obstacle.