A "lavoir" is a wash-house, a public place in France set aside for the washing of clothes. They are commonly sited on a spring or beside or set over a river. Many lavoirs are provided with roofs for shelter. Some wash-houses were built with sloping sides to the water-basin. Even when they were flat, the surrounds could be used exactly like any washboard, as a surface for rubbing or brushing soap into soiled cloth.
There are still lots of open-air wash-houses to be seen in Uzège - like in other warmer parts of Europe, but they are rarely used. Above, left, the wash-house in Uzès, built in 1854. That's why with the coming of piped water supplies and modern drainage, lavoirs have been steadily falling into disuse although a number of communes have restored ancient lavoirs some of which date back to the 10th Century.