Bells And Whistles

The day that we decided to go up to Sevrier was a beauty, hot and clear. Annecy seems like a town that’s very sportif, people are always out walking, cycling, jogging, and even in-line skating. Doing all of that by the side of the lovely Lake Annecy is quite idyllic.

Walking to the lake we pass the Big Chicken, with which Shel is enthralled. Because Atlanta has its own Big Chicken, a landmark that apparently still spins his compass, every time we encounter ant sort of  large chickenoid sculpture, Shel is in heaven.

And speaking of heaven, the hillsides are dotted with fluffy sheep, soaking up the sunshine and the fresh spring grass.

In Sevrier, as in Annecy, the tulip magnolias are in extravagant bloom. Since I’m as much of a tulip magnolia fan as Shel is a big chicken lover, we’re both very happy.

In Sevrier we make a beeline for the Paccard bell museum. We would have loved to tour the foundry itself, but have sadly arrived a few weeks ahead of the season. Paccard makes huge bells, using a complicated lost wax method involving brick molds, a sand and wax layer, molten bronze, clay, and some sort of soggy fiber.

I’m amazed to discover that elaborate decorations are carved into the wax layer, even though most of the bells will hang high in bell towers and probably never be seen.

The process of making the bells hasn’t changed much over hundreds of years, although the raising of a bell has undoubtedly become more mechanized.

Here Shel stands in a representation of the mold of their largest bell, which weighed 25 tons.  Just imagine raising and hanging this baby!

There are lots of beautiful cast objects at the museum, as well as a huge carillon that plays sweetly, on demand. If you go, try to make it in the summer, when you can tour the foundry and see the pouring of the molten bronze, which, based on the film we watched at the museum, I imagine to be a lot like peering into the gates of hell.

Outside the museum, Sevrier basks peacefully, and so do we. I know the whole place is buried in snow for many months of the year, but it’s unimaginable now, so warm is the sun and so sweet the breeze.

Explore posts in the same categories: Road Trips in Europe


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5 Comments on “Bells And Whistles”

  1. Daniela Fernandes Says:

    I love your blog! It takes me to France every time I read it and this is priceless! Thank you for sharing your experiences and feelings with me!


  2. Emily Says:

    Thanks for this engaging peek at an area of France where I’ve never been. How beautiful it is! The bell foundry must be a sight to behold when it’s in full production. I got a chuckle over the big chicken…we always are seeking out huge statues of *very* rounded, abstract women. We’ve found them all over the world so it must be something artists enjoy creating.

  3. Lucie Says:

    The last time I was in France was in 1991! Thank you for the lovely photos… some of my strongest memories are of the seeing French countryside on the TGV from Paris to Cannes…

  4. alfred jacobs Says:

    I love these photo and the commentary.

  5. philmaxbear Says:

    We are going back to the area in June this year and we only stay just down the road in St Jorioz but have never visited the bell foundry. We will go this year I think.

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