Saturday 12 June 2010
Today’s festivities began with the removal of the bell cast yesterday night. While we waited for Estrosi, mayor of Nice (and also minister of industry), the clamps were removed from the mold, and we watched flags being thrown over a background of drum and fife music. Once Estrosi arrived, the mold removal could begin. The manager of Paccard explained that to help the bell dislodge from its mold, the casing needed to be hammered. He presented the hammer to Estrosi for “a first few strikes,” but once Estrosi had started, he kept going, despite polite requests from Paccard workers to let them take over. After a few minutes of hammering, the bell was finially dislodged and it came out of its mold. It was covered in residue, which Paccard workers began to remove. Estrosi posed for another photo, then workers sandblasted and polished the bell.The finished bell will resemble its two sisters, also cast for the 150th anniversary of Nice joining France.
While the bell was being sandblasted and polished, a large group of chefs were cooking for all who dared approach. It was less chaotic than I had expected, but there was still plenty of jostling as people tried their best to get at the free food on offer. I managed to get three dishes: a socca salad, then “Niçois sushi”, and finally a mango sorbet with chopped strawberries and basil, with a strawberry coulis. One of the many other dishes prepared was stockfish, which, of course, originates from Norway. How did it become a specialty in Nice? Norwegian sailors would bring stockfish to Nice and exchange it for olive oil, quite simply! After most of the food had been given out, techno was put on the speakers and our chefs danced onstage.
Tomorrow, the bell that was finished today will be formally presented to the City of Nice and blessed by a church representative, since it’s for Notre Dame. (“Notre Dame” simply means “our lady”, so there are several churches and cathedrals named Notre Dame throughout France.)