Lavoirs are places where the washing was done years ago. There are still many in existance and some are now being restored and preserved as they are part of France’s heritage.
Some are quite large and others are small but they generally follow the same pattern. They are close to a river and close to the village or town. Quite often there is a small channel off the main river, and this is regulated with sluice gates so that a steady and controlled flow of water is achieved. The area is normally covered to provide shelter from the elements and quite often there is also a wall on one side, again to provide some shelter from wind and rain. Also the area next to the water is normally reinforced with stones or concrete so that it does not get too muddy, which would not be desirable if you were trying to wash clothes.
Evidently the lavoir was not only a place to do the washing but it was also where the women of the area would swop news, gossip and generally put the world to rights.