A Typical French Hotel Room.

Before you even open the door to your room in a typical French hotel, you’ll be face to face with another interesting aspect of travel in this country.

The elevators that take you up to your room are really small . . . some so small that if you put your luggage into the elevator, there may be only room for one person left. (One more reason for traveling light.)

In most French hotels, if there’s no one actually walking down the corridor on a bedroom floor, the hallway’s dark, meaning pitch black at night. But if there’s even a slight movement—a door starting to open, for instance—Pop! the hallway lights up . . . but only in the section where there was movement.

Hotel rooms in France are small. In fact, space is at a premium and everything is compact. Unless you’re paying big, big bucks, there will be (if you’re lucky) a king-size bed centered against one wall with just enough space to move around between the bed and the dresser drawers and a small table or desk. (That’s were I set up my laptop.)

When you check in, your room key is the typical plastic card that almost all hotels use now. But in French hotels, there’s a little receptacle on the wall just inside the door to your room. When you slip your room key into it, the electricity pops on in the room.

And of course the entire room doesn’t light up with a flip of a switch by the door. Light fixtures focus the light where it’s needed and the bulbs themselves are not as bright as is the lighting in American hotel rooms.

Toilets in French hotel bathrooms flush, start to finish, in a couple of seconds. And there are usually two separate buttons to push on top of the tank—one for a quick flush, a second when a longer flush is needed.

I’ll admit it takes some time getting used to it. But It’s all designed to generate more revenue from smaller spaces and to save water and electricity. Actually, most European hotel rooms function in similar ways. And the sooner we all start doing that, the better.