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?