April 10, 2011

LE LAVOIR OF ST-RÉMY

As we drive around the villages of the Touraine, a common site is the village lavoir.  In Le Grand-Pressigny we have found two; one by the river and a long way from the main road, and a smaller one on the road to Le Petit-Pressigny. 

This one in St-Rémy-sur-Creuse is right by the road through the village.

st remy 1

Usually it is decorated with flowers in hanging baskets suspended from the beams.  Obviously when I took these photos the flowers had given up.  Perhaps the task of watering them was just too much by the end of the summer.

st remy 2

Lavoirs were used for the public washing of laundry before dwellings had their own water supply and are usually sited by a river or spring.  Here in St-Rémy you can see the pump so presumably there is a well or spring nearby.  The river is quite a distance away.

Our little cottage in LGP has its own well in the back garden.  There is a right of access along the passage between our house and the neighbours and three dwellings share the use of the well.  It’s completely dry now.

The lavoirs in Le Grand-Pressigny are a fair distance from the house and the walk back from either of them is up a steep hill.  I often find myself wondering what life was like in previous centuries – pretty hard, I think, and especially on wash-day.  Mme André told me that she moved into her cottage the year after piped water arrived, which was in 1955.

4 comments:

  1. That's a lovely lavoir, Jean.
    We have it so easy these days don't we? Thank goodness!

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  2. The closest lavoir to us is also at the bottom of a valley some distance away. I would not be happy carrying home damp washing up that hill!! Diane

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  3. Three quarters of rural France did not get reticulated water until the 1960s, Mme André was lucky in a way. It caused a huge social change, because women who once met regularly at the lavoir were now isolated at home on washday. It meant that the elderly and infirm were not monitored quite so well by the community, because presence or absence was not noted and information not exchanged on washday.

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  4. Craig and Diane - you're right, we take our piped water for granted, and the washing machines.

    Susan - I suppose this is where the idea of the gossiping washerwoman came from, but as you say, it was also a social service, helping people to look out for each other.

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