I love stopping to see these lavoirs in France. I, too, like to imagine all of the chatter and activity that must have taken place as the clothes were being washed. Thanks for the beautiful photo.
Dean: The lavoirs formed an important social function in terms of women networking. If you didn't turn up, the others knew there was something wrong. The introduction of reticulated water to every house was a huge social change, which must have caused a certain amount of isolation for women.
One of my elderly neighbours always complained that up on the rise where she lived there was no lavoir...they had to use the pond which dried to almost nothing in summer and at our last house there was a sort of bay where the women from the hamlet used to wash their clothes in the river....not a nice job in winter, nor when the abbatoir in the town upstream flushed out its works.It seemed part of the eternal struggle between those who lived in a village and those who lived in the hamlets around it...very noticeable at local election time right up to the time I left.
On our first visit to France, lavoirs were still in use. At Le Mont St Michel campsite our neighbor strongly recommended savon de Marseille, assuming we'd be using a lavoir. Luckily we managed to find laundromats except for a few places in North Africa.
cool. glad it's been left instead of filled in. apparently in economy measures around WWII the swan ponds in the park near here were in-filled.