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Watch your step

One of the first things I learnt about France during my exchange, was that they are far less vigilant than we are in Australia when it comes to cleaning up after their beloved little dogs.

The first time I stepped in one of those foul little presents, I was with my host family, returning to the car after a lovely dinner. I was fifteen, and still a little naïve. My shiny purple Dr Marten boots were brand new, and I was utterly horrified to have soiled them. When we returned home, I scrubbed them clean, and vowed to watch the ground wherever I went to ensure that it would not happen again.

The next day, I had one of the scheduled meet-ups with the other Australians on exchange in Lyon. I was quick to warn Rachana of the trouble she might encounter, and we took care to stare at our feet as we were taken on a tour of the Croix Rousse.

Watch your step for… oh, too late

After a filling lunch (I believe we had Subway, because we craved the familiarity), we grew less concerned about what was going on under our feet, and paid a little less attention to the streets that we were navigating. This is when disaster struck. A bad smell in the air reminded Rachana to watch where she was going – but it was too late. Her boots had already trodden in some dog’s stinky mess.

With half a day ahead of us, and a lack of instruments to scrape it away with, this dog poo situation needed to be remedied – and fast, because the group had already drifted away from us, and we really didn’t want to loose them. Mme Balvay, the French chaperone, upon noticing what was keeping us, gestured towards a hose-like contraption that had been set up to clean the street.

Britt Aylen - Watch your step

It was a large pipe, on a stand, with a steady flow of water coming out. Rachana tried to balance next to it, standing on one leg as she pointed the other towards the hose. Naturally, I took this opportunity to take a photo.

By this point, everybody else had gone round a corner and down some stairs. Luckily enough, this meant that nobody could see what they were doing, because as soon as Rachana had finally eradicated most of the faeces from her shoe, she lost her balance and somehow managed to knock the stand over. This led to a large gush of water coming out. The next thing we knew, the street was filling up, and a stream of water followed as we quickly bolted round the corner and down the stairs to join the rest of our group.

“What was that noise?” asked someone, just as we were catching up.  Rachana and I suppressed our giggles, and shrugged innocently (while silently praying that nobody would come round the corner and point us out as the vandals who flooded the street).

Six years later, Rachana was on exchange at Sciences Po, and I was studying an intensive French history course at the Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques.  On a rare day off, we took a short trip to Orléans.  This time it was my turn to step in the dog poo, but instead of accidentally flooding another street, I washed it off in the river (and almost fell in).  Some things never change…

Have you had any similar experiences?

Image credits
1. © CAZASCO/Benoît Ferradini


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3 Comments




  1. Amber
    8 years ago

    I’ve been here 7 years and it still happens to me 🙂 As soon as I let my mind wonder and forget to keep my eyes on the sidewalk, bam! Poo.


  2. Fitz
    8 years ago

    dire que pas mal de Français s’inquiètent lors de venir ici en Australie de rencontrer un serpent ou une araignée, alors que leurs toutous ont décoré les trottoirs urbains de leurs crottes.


  3. Bethany Untied
    8 years ago

    Aw….I’m sure it’s funnier now than it was living it ! 🙂