Despite the amount of bottled water consumed in Paris, there’s nothing wrong with the municipal water. It’s perfectly safe to drink. But there is one thing you’ll soon find out: it’s hard and full of minerals, especially calcium. These minerals leave deposits on everything from your hair to the kitchen sink. Hard water can also cause soap scum to collect on dishes and tiles. Without proper treatment, calcium deposits can build up, clogging the pipes of your washing machine and dishwasher.
There are a couple of products available to fight the scum and keep your machines humming. Filter systems that attach to the tap or to a pitcher (such as the Brita and Swiss Water Filter) will remove some but not all the minerals; you will likely need some of these products even if you use a filter. Plain white vinegar (vinaigre cristal) will also remove calcium deposits although some people object to the scent.
To remove the water spots on stainless steel and the brown scuzz on porcelain, forget Ajax. No amount of scrubbing will work. Instead, buy a special anti-calcaire spray or liquid. Add an anti-calcaire tablet to each load of laundry. And if you have a dishwasher, make sure that you keep the salt compartment full with a special salt designed for the machine. You will find all these products with other cleaning supplies in your neighborhood supermarket.
If you live in a house, you may have a whole-house water softening system that can be maintained and serviced by contract with the manufacturer, just as you might have a contract for your heating/cooling system. (Water softening chemically treats water, exchanging calcium and magnesium ions for sodium ions.) For example, Culligan services water softening systems in the Paris region.
When it comes to your hair and skin, the solutions are naturally quite personal. You may find that your hair feels brittle and dull; on the other hand, some women say that their hair never looks better than when they’re in Paris. So if you notice a change, you may want to experiment changing your shampoo or shower wash.