Restricted to women !
The laundries appeared everywhere in the years 1850, after a collective awareness of the importance of public health (Let us remember the epidemics of cholera, typhoid and other diseases in the 19th century....).
The laundry is a water-supplied basin, which is first used to rinse the previously washed laundry. This was the last step before the drying process. Indeed, the washing only used a few buckets and could be done in houses but the rinse demanded a huge amount of clear water, only available in watercourses or laundries.
The social role of the laundries is essential… rare places only for women, where they could gather and discuss to better bear the very physical laundry chore. Some of them goes there privately, others as laundresses or washerwomen. Sometimes, some laundries were only allowed to the professional laundresses.
Pierre-Jakez Hélias in the Cheval d'Orgueil says that we can hear "the spoken newspaper of the parish"...
Many municipalities have managed to preserve these buildings, sometimes still used as the washhouse on the street...des Lavandières in Moustoir-Ac, below in the photo on the left.
Photos © Fr. Lepennetier