Vote Hérisson for Le Village Préféré des Français 2021

[Note: Voting has ended. The winner will be announced on the show on June 30, 2021!]

Congratulations to the French village of Hérisson, which has been named one of 14 finalists in the 2021 edition of Le Village Préféré des Français, the FRANCE 3 show hosted by historian, Stéphane Bern!

Since the program is called France’s Favorite Village, it sounds like only residents of France and France’s overseas territories are allowed to vote by phone.

But… there’s also a link to the ballot, so it appears everyone can vote! See below:

✅ Vote here: Le village préféré des Français (Note: voting ended on March 25, 2021.)

If everyone can vote, then I’d absolutely cast my vote from California for Hérisson, the charming medieval village in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. It’s located in the heart of France, which is fitting because when you visit the tiny village, it will simply win your heart! ❤️

That’s what happened to me after I spent a month there while I participated in an international volunteer project, where we did light landscape work in the area, including the Châteloy lavoir!

Château d’Hérisson (1995)

Fun facts about Hérisson 🦔

  • About 600 people currently live in Hérisson
  • The feudal Château d’Hérisson (above) was built between the 11th – 13th centuries and restored by Louis II of Bourbon in 1380
  • The Aumance river calmly meanders through it
  • Hérisson is a popular summer vacation spot, especially among families, hikers, and bicyclists
  • The oak trees from nearby Tronçais Forest are used to make wine barrels

How to get there: Hérisson can be reached by car or by connecting bus from the Montluçon rail station.

The winning village will be announced during the broadcast of the show on June 30, 2021.

Bon chance, Hérisson!

Have you been to Hérisson? Tell me in the comments below!

Wednesday Postcard: Royat, France

© 2018 Caroline Tintinger


Bonjour! This week’s carte postale comes from Royat, a commune in the Puy-de-Dôme department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeast-central France.

The postcard is part of a set I recently purchased from an online shop. Each postcard features a photograph from the Clermont-Ferrand area taken by Caroline Tintinger, who agreed to answer some of my questions!

How did you first get into photography?

I take photographs of places around my town, and places I visit as an avocation.

Could you please share a little back story about this image? Is that a castle on the hill?

The postcard of Royat shows a château on the ridge, Le Paradis. It was once a Cyclopean structure built in the days of Gaul by Gallic Druids. Later it was used by Vercingetorix as his oppidum when fighting against Julius Caesar. When Caesar took control of Augustonemetum (current day Clermont-Ferrand), he expanded the existing building into the Palais des Thermes.

Thanks/Merci, Caroline!

You can see more of Caroline’s postcards at her Etsy shop here.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, à bientôt!

Wednesday Postcard Bonjour Darlene blog

Bein’ Green in 2020: the Châteloy Lavoir in Hérisson, France

🌿Bein’ green: respecting the environment, keeping it clean, and free of trash

In the summer of 1995, I participated in an international volunteer project. I went to Hérisson, a charming commune with about 600 residents, located in the Allier department in central France. We were tasked with simple landscaping projects, like clearing brush from the castle’s garden. One of my group’s other project sites was the Châteloy lavoir.

What’s a lavoir?

Starting in the 17th century, many towns in rural areas built communal wash-houses, or lavoirs, for the purpose of improving hygiene. The washing would be done exclusively by women. The three-part process called the “big wash” would take place only a few times a year.

First, linens and clothing would be soaked in a wooden tub in the home. Then they would be laid flat and covered with ash. Next, hot water would be poured over the layer of ash. After this process, the washerwomen would bring the linens and clothing to the lavoir for rinsing, beating, rinsing again, and then brought back home to dry on a clothesline. To protect their knees, the washerwomen would kneel in a box that was open on one side. The lavoir became a social gathering place as it provided women the opportunity to visit with their friends.

Lavoirs can be found in countries, like Italy, Spain, Finland, Portugal, Switzerland, Costa Rica, India, Côte d’Ivoire, Laos, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

With the invention of washing machines, lavoirs were eventually abandoned. Some were vandalized or destroyed. However, many places in France still have the structures intact, like the one in Châteloy (pictured below).



Madonna and Child statue guarding the Châteloy lavoir (photo taken August 6, 1995)


🌿Bein’ green: to be of the color between yellow and blue; color of grass, plants, duckweed

While we did not touch the lavoir itself, we cleared the lavoir area of weeds and we trimmed the grass. We also painted the rusted gate a dark shade of green.


Châteloy lavoir gate “Before” we began work (1995):



Signs welcoming us and describing our work plan were posted around Hérisson:


“After” we finished working at Châteloy lavoir (1995):

Notice the gate hinges painted dark green!


Fast-forward 25 years


In January 2020, French public television channel, France 3, filmed a segment on Hérisson for their Hors Sentiers series.

Host Stéphanie Vinot and tour guide Chrystelle Blanchard went on a short hike (8 km/ 5 miles) through the picturesque medieval Bourbonnais village.

They featured the 10th century château and its towers and dungeons, as well as l’Aumance, the river that runs through Hérisson.

Before proceeding to the Église St-Pierre in Châteloy, they made a quick stop at the Châteloy lavoir.



© France 3 TV (2020)


As the lavoir appeared on my screen, it was instantly familiar: a rectangular cement structure in the ground filled with stagnant water covered in bright green duckweed.

The statue of the Madonna and Child (installed in the late 1970s) was still standing protectively over it.

Even the gate we painted makes a brief appearance in the video:

© France 3 TV (2020)


🌿Bein’ green: to be gullible, naive

Perhaps other volunteer groups have come to repaint the gate over the years. But if you told me that right there is my group’s original green paint on the gate, I’d believe you!

I couldn’t help but get misty-eyed and gush: The gate is still there! And it’s still green! How it warmed my heart to see it. Sentimental me.

Take a virtual tour

For a less sentimental and more practical view of Hérisson in 2020, watch the video by France 3 TV ▶️

(Video) Randonnée : dans l’Allier, à la découverte du sentier de l’Aumance | © France 3 TV | All rights reserved.

For more information:

🌿 🦔 Hérisson means hedgehog!