Coming clean

Lavoir (wash house), Pontivy, Brittany

Lavoir (wash house) beside the river in Pontivy, Brittany, France

Having a washing machine delivered to our house was a big event in more ways than one. There was one in place when we bought the house but its continued grinding, squeaking noises were a clear indication that we’d have to replace it sooner than later. Whenever we’ve had to buy an appliance here, Bill has done a thorough job of investigating our best options both online and in bricks-and-mortar stores. Once he settled on a specific machine, it was no surprise to me that our local, in-town appliance store that we lovingly think of as Western Auto® ended up being the best place to get it.

Look at all those languages we could use to register the washer

Look at all those languages we could use to register the washer

The other items that we’ve bought from this store called Denjean have arrived at our house the same day we ordered them or maybe the next but this washing machine isn’t kept in stock locally for a couple of reasons. By European standards its capacity is huge, holding 13 kilograms (28 pounds) of clothing compared to the 4.7 kilograms that we can wash in the machine included with our rental house. It is also a dryer, but you have to remove some of the wet clothes that exceed 8 kilograms for it to continue into that cycle. Surprisingly, despite its large internal size, it still fits in the same footprint as any other washing machine or dishwasher, for that matter, since it’s often installed in the kitchen.

Former wash house in Carcassonne is now an art shop

Former wash house in Carcassonne is now an art shop

Long before washing machines were common in French homes, clothes were often taken to a flowing water source like a river or spring to scrub them against rocks to get them clean. Many villages built a lavoir, like the one you see above in the northwest part of the country in Brittany in the town of Pontivy, with stone tubs and a covering to shelter the users from bad weather or hot sun. Up in the medieval fortress of Carcassonne’s Cité, far above the river below, the wash house was set up near the well which must have added an extra burden of manually filling a tub just to begin the scrubbing. I read that these lavoirs became the village gathering point for singing, laughter, and gossip. I can only hope that we have that much fun with our new machine.

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About Bob

While living in North, Central and South America, in the middle of the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, and now in Europe, my passion has remained the same: travel and meeting new friends.

Posted on November 27, 2016, in Life in France and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Pretty pictures Bob! Have fun with the laundry!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh good luck on having fun doing laundry! Maybe the first time or two!

    Liked by 1 person

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