Moncontour Sentier des Lavoirs

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Moncontour is a very old village; Charlemagne is reputed to have met his brother there, and the donjon (castle keep) was built around 1020 AD. It is noted for its 'lavoirs', small buildings beside the rivers where washing used to be done in the 19th century. These appear to have been part commercial, part status symbol: some were public, and some private. The rivers themselves were channeled from marshland in works begun by the monks of nearby St. Jouin de Marnes over a thousand years ago: the general topography is similar to the Somerset Levels.


Because we live nearby we walk there a good deal. The First Series of pictures was shot with a Leica M8 and two lenses: Zeiss Sonnar 50/1.5 (seven pics) and Leitz Elmarit-M 135/2.8 (nos. 2 and 6, reading left to right, top to bottom). The church is probably 900 years old. Moncontour is right on the border between the predominantly tile roofs of southern France (picture 5) and the slate roofs of northern France: there are houses in the village with both, and the church has both.


The Second Series was shot, improbably enough, with an Exakta Varex IIb (the subject of a paid Review) and a Pentacon Six TL. Both were fitted with standard Zeiss lenses, 58/2 Biotar for the Exakta and 80/2.8 Biometar for the Pentacon. You can tell which camera was used from the format: 35mm for the Exakta, 6x6cm for the Pentacon. In picture 2 there is a lavoir behind the bridge across the Dive (pronounced 'Deev'); in picture 3, a boat on the Dive; and the river is seen again in pictures 7 and 8. The donjon appears once more at the end of the series, below a picture of part of a ruined 16th century chapel next to the donjon.


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© 2007 Roger W. Hicks