Controversial roundabout in the Aravis

<Photo of the new roundabout decoration between Thones and Alex in the Aravis, Haute Savoie, France>
Last year, the big roundabout between Thônes and Alex that links Annecy to La Clusaz and surrounds was merely a steep mound of grass that locals would sometimes drive over the top of for fun. It’s unusual to find a roundabout in France without decoration. Towards the end of the year, the workmen moved in and flattened the mound, then started placing rocks in a pattern across it. By the end of November, a giant round ring with a green blob appeared in the middle of the roundabout.

Can you guess what it represents?

Could it be a modern artist’s take on a Ferris wheel? Perhaps some sort of animal shelter? An old, rusty mill that someone dumped?

No, it’s cheese, silly. Of course it’s cheese! It’s a round of Reblochon — the AOC cheese made in the heart of Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz and a handful of other villages here. The green blob represents the green stamp that farmers can place on each Reblochon to show it’s been made on their own farm. It gets a higher price than Reblochon with a red stamp, which indicates cheese made by co-ops, who buy milk from more than one local farm. Hopefully, the cheese isn’t quite as airy as the centre of this interpretation of Reblochon.

Within weeks of the artwork being installed, the metal had formed a layer of rust. Hardly an appetising representation of creamy, smelly Reblochon cheese, but it seems to have the approval of my French friends. They say it’s indicative of the trade of the area, but with a nice, modern take on cheese. I’m less convinced. The Aravis is far from modern when it comes to anything: the locals cash in on their traditions, so it makes sense that most restaurants continue to serve tartiflette and new buildings look old before they’re even finished. I’m all for that, and that’s why I’d prefer a big, yellow representation of cheese that has all sides attached.

So, should it be traditional, or is this modern take on cheese better?

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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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4 comments on “Controversial roundabout in the Aravis
  1. Tom Long says:

    At least the decoration might stop the locals driving over the roundabout, nobody would want to risk squashing a reblochon, even a hollow metal one!

  2. Lesley says:

    Do they have a Committee to decide what goes on a roundabout? I can imagine that the ideas get better after a glass or two.

  3. Mary Ann says:

    I work in Chicago and I frequently pass by the Picasso sculpture in the Daley Center Plaza, so I’m used to seeing more unusual, representative sculpture (albeit in an urban environment). The Reblochen cheese sculpture strikes me as an homage to Picasso — it’s very cubist-inspired (if you can call a round wheel of cheese “Cubist”). I like it! A little bit of very modern art in a very traditional setting. Quite a conversation starter!

  4. Wendy says:

    Lesley, yep, they do! I know someone who submitted roundabout designs – a totally serious business here!

    Mary Ann, it certainly is a conversation starter. That Picasso sculpture looks fantastic.

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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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