MANON

A "lavandière", or laundress, was a woman who washed linens by hand, in a stream or at a wash house. The laundry was thrown into the water, rubbed with ash, rinsed, twisted and folded repeatedly. It was then beaten with a wooden instrument to wring out as much water as possible. It was then placed in a basket and taken somewhere to dry. In Paris, members of the laundress guild worked in dozens of wash houses, called “wash-sheds”, that were moored in the Canal St. Martin. Despite the hard labour, the laundresses, or washer-maids, were joyful, chattering and teasing amongst themselves.