Church bells

Months ago, I wrote about the noisy church bells in my friend’s village and how annoying they were at 7am on a Sunday morning. You’d think that, just a few months after that experience, I’d be wise to moving near a church, and yet here I am in St Jean de Sixt, close enough to the church to be heard by the bell ringer if I yelled out to stop that noise if only he’d stop ringing the bells. And yes, apparently, the church bells are still rung by a local here. Thankfully, the bells don’t go off at 7am on a Sunday morning, but they do go off at 8am on a Sunday morning, and every hour after that until 10pm. There’s also the “It’s lunchtime!” ring at midday, and the “It’s hometime!” ring at 7pm. Friends say: “Oh, you get used to them,” and I guess I have to a degree. Hearing the DONG DONG DONG is in fact great for time keeping: I’m much more aware of the hours ticking past, but as a light sleeper who rarely enjoys a sleep-in, the Sunday morning bells are still annoying, so I now have ear plugs on my bedside table at the ready.

What ear plugs cannot fix is funeral parking traffic. The surrounding streets are lined with illegally-parked cars, and my usual car park is jammed to the point that some of those cars are wedged in behind other cars which hopefully only belong to other funeral-goers. I know it’s wrong of me and a terrible thing to have a whinge about funerals: somebody has died, and all I care about is the fact that I have to lug my skis fifty more metres because my usual parking spots are taken. So, deceased people, I’m sorry. But then, the church should be sorry too because when I first heard the funeral chime, I presumed it was a wedding with all its cheery major key chiming. Church, shouldn’t you be more solemn? Like me when I’m grumpy carrying my skis past all the people wearing black?

St Jean de Sixt cemeteryI can see into the cemetery from my house, and after each funeral, the attendees walk slowly through the cemetery before leaving the church grounds and waiting in their cars of other funeral-goers to move theirs out of the way, but the body never seems to get buried there. In fact, the cemetery seems pretty full — and a bit sad for its occupants during winter, for although the path is kept cleared by a lawn-mower-sounding snow clearer, the snow on the graves remains, and fresh flowers are a rare sight (where can anyone put them?). On the upside, they get a great view of the mountain. I took this photo from the cemetery, with the lovely view of the l’Etale peak of La Clusaz, when I walked through it the other day for signs of fresh flowers. There were none, nor any funeral goers, nor any signs of the bell-ringer, but I’m going to check that out with the local tourist office. And if he does exist, does that mean he never gets a sleep-in?


I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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2 comments on “Church bells
  1. Bells are part of the rural french heritage. i don’t know where you come from in the US but some French are just like you… They even want to forbid it in villages…

  2. April says:

    I’m from the Australian part of America! :O) I’m actually not American at all, although it is a very nice country to visit. I certainly don’t want to forbid bell ringing in villages so I’m not sure what you mean. Perhaps my humour didn’t really shine through on this entry…I do actually like the church bells now (just not on a Sunday morning).

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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