Saturday, 13 May 2017

Vintage French in B and W

Apologies – some of the details of the image have been reduced for the sake of its uploading speed.
Is this just me?

French + vintage  = bliss

The radiator cap of this vintage French automobile was designed to be sitting proud on top of the car's bonnet.

Linking up with Black and White Weekend

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Lavoirs - a snippet of social history for visitors of France

The village in which this washhouse (lavoir) is located, is devoid of a bakery and any shops, but it boasts a castle and a charming lavoir. The domed roof covering the spring, is particularly attractive.

It was a recent post from Fabously French that had me scouring my poorly archived photos for some images of lavoirs* – sign posts of a now fragile heritage.

Adjacent to the 13th century church that sits at the bottom of a steep incline in our village, is this colourfully decorated lavoir. The flowers are voluntarily grown and nurtured by the surrounding neighbours.

The quaintness and charm of surviving lavoirs, that can still be seen in many French villages today, usually belie the often gruelling demands of laundering in bygone eras. More than just a place of work, a lavoir also provided a place where women could meet and chat while attending to an extremely time consuming, and often arduous domestic chore. 

A quaint washhouse can just be seen to the right of this stream that runs through Beaune. 

Household laundry consisted mainly  of rags, cloths and the inner garments worn close to one’s skin. Bed linen and outer garments were washed sparingly.

This lavoir is located under the private home, shown below, and is constantly fed by a spring just a few metres uphill. There was no available information about the history the building. 

Scrubbing, thrashing and wringing out the sodden fabrics involved physical strength, mental stamina and having one’s hands constantly wet - despite the ambient temperature.

Adjacent to notre maison, is a set of stone stairs that descends to the foot of our village, where there is a wash house that would have served the past inhabitants of My French Folly.  The garden is the result of the generosity of the lady who lives opposite the perennial spring on which this washhouse is built.
This stray cat can usually be seen basking in the sun on the leaver walls.

Of course there was also the task of carting the laundry to and from the lavoir on roads that were often unpaved and not necessarily flat. The 3 lavoirs in our French village are located at the bottom of the hills - on which most houses are perched - where water continuously flows from underground springs.

*Lavoirs were communal spaces - often roofed -  in which the public could wash clothes. They were commonly used throughout Europe for hundreds of years before the advent of household laundries.  

Stepping into the cool dampness of this washhouse provided a welcomed relief from the heat outside.
A private washing "sink" located in an isolated hamlet in eastern France.

There is a school of carp of varying sizes that inhabits the waters under this roof.

The 2 images above are of a washhouse in an un named hamlet nestled in the hills around Louhans. 

Each time I descend this set of steps that winds downhill from My French Folly, and pass the lavoir that sits at its feet, my mind drifts to the past inhabitants of our French home. Water and sanitation had never been connected to our house when we purchased it.  The installation of these modern amenities was a costly exercise, fraught with unforeseen complications.

Twilight as we walked past the nearest lavoir to commence our climb  home, after a delightful
apero with some local friends.