Dirty Laundry

314.Laundry in CaunesJust kidding! This is to remind yourselves to thank your lucky stars that you didn’t live….50 or 60 years ago.

Caunes lavoirBack in the day, women had to haul the dirty clothes to a lavoir, a spot with water and basins for doing laundry. It wasn’t until relatively recently (the 1970s) that villages around here got running water in their homes.

Actually, the clothes were washed by hand at home, because that didn’t require much water, and then taken to the lavoir for rinsing. That’s even more back-breaking, because wet clothes are heavy.

Caunes lavoir in use
In use! The sign says “no bathing.”

OK, so it looks pretty awesome, but remember, there was no wifi then. And think of doing it in winter!

I already had a shot of one of the prettier lavoirs, at Caunes-Minervois, but I decided to go back for another. A woman was walking just ahead of me, and she veered into the lavoir. I figured it was to take a photo. But no–she proceeded to take rubber gloves out of her bag, then her washing. Well, that’s what it’s for. Cars on the road stop when they see me taking a photo (yes!), but she was not concerned about being in this shot.

Another time that I passed by there, somebody had washed a room-sized oriental carpet, and it was left, unsupervised, to drip-dry over the rail. Which is what one does–we wash all of ours every summer, but in our yard. Over here, wall-to-wall carpet is considered not very hygenic. When I see what is under our rugs, which get swept over and under regularly plus washed every year, I can’t help but agree.

Actually Caunes has two lavoirs. Other villages have them as well, sometimes with water, and sometimes not. Another slice of traditional life that is no more.

villarzel lavoir 1
An unused lavoir in another village, Villarzel