To lavoir or not to lavoir… zat is zee question…

Definition…

lavoir nm wash-house

Like many villages in France, we are all proud of our local lavoir. Also like many places this has been kept preserved for locals and visitors to enjoy. It is seen as a part of the local heritage, the ways of antan, long before washing machines, Persil, Daz and fabric softner. A place les villageois came to wash their clothes. Ours here is fed by a stream from the nearby marais de l’Essonne.

When I first moved to the area, we were able to go and visit our local lavoir whenever we wanted. Despite big efforts by the local mairie to make the surrounding borders pretty with flowers, the lavoir itself began to collect coke cans and beer bottles in the water thrown in by inconsiderate teenagers. It also became a place for them to gather, to write and carve graffiti into the supporting posts and to remove tiles from the roof.
Finally things got to the stage where it was gated and railed off – thus closed to the public. Eventually it was decided to open it to the public at certain times (see photo), but despite this, more litter has been thrown into the water and recently the final straw was a fire in a rubbish bin at the entrance to the lavoir.

Sad, but la belle France sometimes has its realities.

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