The washhouse is fed from the same spring as the adjacent “Fontaine Vieille”. The basins and draining boards were built at waist height so that the washer women (bugadières) could do their laundry standing up. In 1791, it was covered, protecting them from wind and rain.
The washouse was further refurbished in 1812 to bring it up to date with 19th century lavoirs and to accommodate a growing population much more aware of hygiene and cleanliness.
The lavoir was used for everyday laundry, using the sloping surfaces to soap and scrub the clothes and the higher basin for rinsing.
The main wash
Main wash was done once or twice a year, only the prewash and rinsing done at the lavoir. The rest of the procedure was done in the “cuvier” (an enormous container made of wood and iron with a hole pierced in the bottom). The laundry carefully placed in the wash tub was put on a tripod over a cauldron. In another cauldron water was heated. An old sheet was draped over the soap impregnated laundry and then filled with a layer of cinders. The subsequent mixture of soap and potash (le lessif) was then collected in the bottom cauldron. This process was repeated several times.