As Lavoir public, mostly covered wash bays are referred to in the French -speaking world.


The history of the covered wash houses enough - according to current knowledge - only to the 18th century. In the Middle Ages, and even in the time after the women washed the clothes on stones in streams or rivers. The construction of the wash-houses was financed as a rule from the respective municipal treasury, because it often - in the opinion of church and government authorities - too open-hearted and generous behavior of the washing women should be prevented or at least hidden behind walls and pulled down low roofs.


Located on a creek or river wash houses were located - as well as tanneries - usually at the exit. As cities grew larger and larger, but had to be tolerated even urban Lavoirs. Some Lavoirs were also in close proximity to a source; only in rare cases Lavoirs were supplied by wells with water.


Allen Lavoirs are two or more washing places and the inclined into the basin washing stones on which the laundry was processed with wooden beaters or by hand together - Brush at that time were hardly in use. Differences exist mainly in the height of the washing stones. Thus, the washerwomen in many Lavoirs had to wash the clothes pieces kneeling, while better equipped wash houses enabled the work while standing.

Since men were not allowed in the wash houses, offered the wash houses - in addition to their purely technical function - the women a private place for their communication, but also could not infrequently degenerate into gossip - hence comes the derogatory comparison " garrulous as a washerwoman ".

Building types

The outer walls of the wash houses could be built of stone or constructed of materials; often they were half open. To shelter the wash houses are mostly related timber structures; brick arches were the exception. Since the 19th century there was - similar to the French market halls ( Halles ) - also cast-iron support structures.


A special feature Lavoir boats ( bateaux - lavoirs ) represents rivers as they existed, for example, in Paris, Geneva or Lyon.


Today surviving Lavoirs are considered landmarks of many communities.

Lavoir in Balschwiller, Haut -Rhin

Lavoir in Bonnat, Creuse

Washing stones of Lavoirs in Orthevielle, Landes department

Lavoir Paunat, Dordogne

Wash house in Vannes, Morbihan department