The Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille in Hérépian lets you play with its collection of bells

By March 5, 2019MUSEUM, TO DO
TO DO | MUSEUM
Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille Hérépian

Hidden in the southern French hinterland, the former train station of charming Hérépian hosts a small but interesting museum. The Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille explains the history of making bells (« cloches ») and sheep-bells (« sonnailles »). It is a great museum for kids as well, as you can actually touch some of the exposed bells and make them ring as loud as you want. How cool is that?!

Granier family

The history of bell-making in Hérépian goes back a long way. Already in 1600, the Granier family produced bells in their foundry. And the same family remained doing so for almost 400 years! It wasn’t until 1990 that the forge was taken over by a non-Granier. The Hérépian foundry was the oldest in France until its closure in 2011. The reason this foundry was so unique in Europe was because they had the knowledge and expertise to create pretty much any type of bells. And the Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille explains this history in three parts, each representing a type of bell.

Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille Hérépian

Copper-clad

After this small lesson in history, the kids and I entered the first part to find all kinds of copper-clad sheep and cowbells displayed. I particularly liked the wall with bells from various regions of France. Signs clearly show the different shapes of bells that signify each region. And as the museum allows visitors to touch the bells, I told the kids they could ring them. They looked at me with big eyes full of disbelief and hesitatingly started with a few little tingles. Soon enough, they got the hang of it! And it was a fun game to hear all the different sounds.

Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille Hérépian

Melted metal

The second part of the museum explains all about spherical and small bells made out of melted metal. I’m a sucker for old workshops and tools, and I thought the moulds used to shape the bells were highly photogenic. Our brood was a bit less enthusiastic about this part, and they continued their pace a bit faster to look for bells they could chime.

Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille Hérépian

Church bells

The kids did stop at the last part of the museum, where we learned how the big church bells are made by casting metal. We walked under a gigantic church bell (“Come on mum, stop taking pictures!”) and the children found the carillon which they could play by pushing a button. I can only support museums like this, who preserve the history of what once was a fairly big industry in such a sleepy village. The Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille has succeeded very well with this interactive and beautiful museum.

Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille Hérépian

Info

The Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille in Hérépian presents a wide selection of bells and their various manufacturing techniques in a modern building, with special care given to the acoustics. The museum is open from May to October, from 14h00 to 19h00, and closes on Mondays. Check the website below for entrance fees and up to date opening hours. The explanations in the exhibitions are entirely in French; however, a booklet with explanations in other languages is available upon request. The Museum is accessible by the Passa Païs Greenway.

Musée de la Cloche et de la Sonnaille
Espace André Malraux
34600 Hérépian
+33 (0)4 67 95 39 95

website

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