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Southern France
Lynn Deasy is a freelance writer, author, foodie, and garden tinkerer. She lives in a 600 year old house in southern France with her husband, Christophe. Currently, she is looking for a literary agent for her memoir CA VA? STORIES FROM RURAL LIFE IN SOUTHERN FRANCE which examines the oddities of French provincial living from an outsider’s point of view through a series of adventures that provide more than a fair share of frustration, education, admiration, and blisters…. yes, lots and lots of blisters. Lynn blogs every Monday, Wednesday, and sometimes Friday.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Le Lavoir and La Lavandière

The village lavoir.  It's rather modest, but some lavoirs can be amazing structures.

Les lavandières
 Most villages have them, some even have more than one: a communal washing machine.  Well, not a machine per say, but a lavoir: an old fashioned washing tub where laundry is done.  Often consisting of multiple basins, le lavoir is communal, free, and at one point, the meeting point for the village women.  It allowed laundry to be washed in a clean water source and was widely used since the 18th Century for hygienic reasons.  Le lavoir is often a covered structured, but can be open air and is made from a variety of materials: stone, brick, cement, and even wood.

The woman who is employed to wash clothes is called la lavandière.  She is often depicted by artists on her knees at the side of le lavoir scrubbing clothes, often with ashes as soap and water ravaged hands.  She is presented as a maternal and provincial woman whose difficulties are often romanticized.  She is a valued figured in Provence and is a common image in the Nativity scene at Christmas in the region.

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