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“A rare opportunity”

Cornille Havard - Fondeur de Cloches
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: In an authentic 19th Century workshop, discover nine centuries of tradition, from ageless methods to modern technology.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access
Caen, France
Level 6 Contributor
178 reviews
53 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
“A rare opportunity”
Reviewed October 11, 2013 via mobile

Few who hear bells ring in towns and villages actually know how these bells are made. Even less have actually witnessed the production of bells. At the "Fonderie" you'll get everything explained in detail. It is interesting and you'll learn a lot. If you're in the area, grab the opportunity if you can.

1 Thank ClogsinFrance
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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262 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Victoria, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Well worth a visit”
Reviewed July 28, 2013

This was a very interesting and not-to-be-missed visit. My wife thought that it would be just a technical "guy thing", but she found it very interesting as well. We had an excellent guide who responded to all our questions. It helped that my wife had been a CASA guide at Notre Dame de Paris and that the foundry had recently made 8 bells for Notre Dame. One note: the Fonderie des cloches is a working French foundry that happens to provide guided tours. It is not primarily a tourist attraction, so the foundry of course observes French working hours (it is closed at lunch) -- so be sure to check on the opening hours before going. As well, remember that large bells are very LOUD when rung.

Visited July 2013
1 Thank Heimbody
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
156 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 144 helpful votes
“Time travel to the Middle Ages. Almost.”
Reviewed July 1, 2013

Visiting the Cornille-Havard in Villedieu-les-Poêles is a rare treat. You never know who you will come across! Or rather, which new bell. In line with a long tradition, most church bells are named, and on our first visit we met the 6,334 kg. bourdon, Étienne, the largest bell to be cast in France for forty years, now installed in Mulhouse in the East of France. But on our second visit we were privileged to see the birth, and on further visits follow the progress, of the new peal of eight bells installed earlier this year in the north tower of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. It was moving to see the care involved in their manufacture by craftsmen and artists, knowing that their bells would ring out at Note-Dame for years to come.

Here is an authentic, working foundry, whose owners are happy to share the history of their tradition with visitors and whose manufacturing methods have hardly changed since the Middle Ages, though now the specification for all new bells is worked out by computer, leaving the fine tuning to skilled experts once the bells have been cast.

The (atelier) workshop is dusty and atmospheric, sometimes noisy. On our visits, we saw bells in nearly every stage of manufacture from the initial moulds being made in their pits, to the preparation of a finished bell for delivery. We were taken round by knowledgeable guides, who explained the process in a straightforward way. At the end of the tour, we found useful booklets and further information in the company shop.

Wear strong shoes.
If you arrive in Villedieu-les-Poêles over the lunch hour, try a local café or restaurant and wait till the foundry reopens at 2.00 pm. It’s worth it. Parking is easier at this time too.

Visited November 2012
1 Thank Patricia S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aylesbury, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
48 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Inconvenient opening times”
Reviewed June 8, 2013

It would be really good if visitor attractions didn't always close between 12 and 2! We arrived only to be told that they were shutting for lunch and unfortunately we were heading for a ferry so couldn't wait until 2pm!

Visited May 2013
2 Thank Sirettc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brit at Large
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Couldn't visit because it closes for a French lunch hour ...”
Reviewed June 2, 2013

Rather disappointing as I'd been looking forward to seeing how bells are made. Like many French establishments the foundry and tour close at 12:30 for an hour and a half, which means you need to arrive either mid morning (and so finish before 12:30) or after 2:00.

Not really a complaint but I wish I had known ! I hope to provide a full review next time I'm in the area at a suitable time.

Visited May 2013
Thank Rovin_Jon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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