The view of Massignac taken from Lac Mas Chaban, a giant artificial lake just down the road. For posts on Massignac see HERE and HERE. Not sure why I missed out the lavoir when I posted these!
Lavoirs in France were first constructed around 1870. Before that, the village ladies had to go to the river (if there was one) or find a local spring or pond where they could wash their clothes. The process was aided by the use of large stones and timber frames. They were women's territory! Here, information and news were circulated; reputations were made and unmade and arguments were sometimes settled by fights with wooden clothes beaters, with the losing participant usually ending up in the water!
A close up of the wash boards. See two on the side of the lavoir and two hung up on a roof beam. I wonder how long the clothes used to last with this scrubbing!
Piped water supply to the lavoir.
I would guess this bench is placed here in memory of one of the local people who was associated in some way with this lavoir. Perhaps in later life he used to sit and contemplate in this quiet, peaceful and pretty spot?
I should have taken a separate close up of the plaque on the bench, but only when I went through the photos did I realise my mistake! This is an electronic enlargement! Francois would have lived 83 years, through a great deal of the 20th century and all the change that brought!
At the back of the church garden.
There is a framed display hung under the lavoir's roof, informing visitors of stories and anecdotes of life at that time. The shots above and below, from September 2001, show local ladies re-creating the scene.
According to one anecdote, laundry washing at "grand houses", which possessed a lot of linen, was done twice a year, in spring and autumn and the process wasn't a small affair! The calendar and state of the moon were taken into account and some luck was needed for drying!
The washing procedure (called the Budjedo) took place over two days and I'm summarising the French description of quite a complex process! I'd be glad to know if you have heard of this activity! In the early morning of the first day, the "couleuse" (a woman skilled in this type of washing) arrived to supervise. Water was heated, over a wood fire, in a giant clay pot (a budjadier) with a cast iron overflow; a sack of wood ash being put in the bottom before the laundry was added to the very hot water. Cold water was added slowly to the pot all day while the laundry soaked. Water flowing from the overflow had always to be very hot, hence the skill required of adding wood to the fire as necessary to achieve this!
Early on the second day, the ladies came to take their washing out of the budjadier, transporting it home in wheelbarrows reserved for the process (see photo!). They washed the laundry again with Marseilles soap, using river or other clear water and rinsed and dried it. Thankfully, it's all much easier now!