The history

of the PACCARD Bell Foundry


Creation of the Foundry

The PACCARD Foundry was created in 1796.

It is nowadays one of the flagship of the French industry, maintaining an ancestral know-how which has been passed on from one generation to the next since 1796 (involving 7 generations by now), thus illustrating in a magnificent way a successful marriage between tradition and modernity.

Created by Antoine Paccard in 1796, the PACCARD Bell Foundry has been existing for more than 200 centuries. At that time, in a village named Quintal (Haute-Savoy / French Alps), people asked their bishop for a priest to be appointed in their parish; Bishop answered, literally: “you’ll have a priest when there will be a bell in the church tower”. Therefore a founder master was contacted. His name was Jean-Baptiste Pitton; he lived in Carouge, next to Geneva in Switzerland.

In those times, bells were still cast directly on site and Mr. Pitton said he needed an apprentice. Village municipality members gathered and appointed Antoine Paccard, who founded the house and created the PACCARD Foundry after his apprenticeship training. When he died, his sons Jean-Pierre and Claude Paccard took over the Foundry business. This new industry was expanding a lot, and Georges decided that factory had to be transferred from Quintal to Annecy-le-Vieux, (Haute Savoy / French Alps). Transfer took place between 1854 and 1857.

Thanks to Jean-Pierre’s sons Georges, Francisque and Victor, the Foundry became very successful and was known worldwide by the end of the XIXth century. Georges was taking care of the technical aspects management and supervised the casting of more than 10000 bells. Beauty of the PACCARD bells shape, accuracy of their musical tonality, magnitude of their fascinating sound and harmony…all this is the result of Georges’ hard work. Carillons were very fashionable in Belgium and tended to expand all over occidental countries; Georges Paccard was their main promoter in France.

In 1891 he had the “Savoyarde”casted for the Sacred Heart Basilica at Montmartre in Paris. It was – and still is – the biggest bell in France. Georges worked with his sons Joseph and Louis, giving them precious advices.


Famous bells

After World War I, a great number of bells were made at the foundry, some of them being pretty famous, like for instance the “Joan of Arc” bourdon bell of the Rouen Cathedral (Normandy / France).

At that time between 700 and 800 bells were cast every year and sent all over the world. Thanks to Alfred Paccard (Louis’ son) and his cousins Henri and Jacques, Foundry kept on expanding. Henri more particulary specialized in bells tuning and developed a very specific technique thanks to which the PACCARD Foundry became the carillon specialist worldwide. As a matter of fact its reputation comes partly from the molding process used and above all, from the mastering of the musicality of bell involving timbre and music note. This is one of the reasons why 54 replicas of the well known “Liberty Bell” were ordered in 1950 by the US government.

Since then numerous peals of bells were made and sent to the US. At the time when Alfred Paccard’s son, Pierre Paccard, ran the Foundry, record levels were reached. The biggest peal of bells in the world was achieved in 1986 and sent to Canada: 3 bells of 6, 10 and 19 tons.

Since 1989 Foundry is located in Sevrier (Annecy lake shore, Haute Savoy, French Alps, France) and since that date numerous peal of bells and chimes were created, such as the carillon of Chambery (Savoy, French Alps, France), which is the biggest one in Europe. New workshops had to be built in order to face an increasing demand. In 1998 we proudly cast the biggest ringing bell in the world, a 33 tons bell ordered for the third millennium by a billionaire living in the US !


The PACCARD Bell Foundry nowadays

Today the manager of the Foundry is Pierre Paccard’s son, Philippe Paccard, assisted by his brother Cyril. Every year 70 to 80% of the tremendous number of bells cast at the Foundry are sent worldwide.

Since the very first bell made for the church located in the village of Quintal (French Alps, Savoy county), more than 120000 bells as a total were made at the PACCARD Bell Foundry, and most of them were sent all over the world: New York, Tokyo, Montreal, Lourdes, Douai, Dallas, Washington, Berkeley…to name but a few of their destination.

Accessories like clappers, bellfries, lightning rods, yokes are made or conceived at the Foundry where all the electronic or electrical components related to time, ringings and ringtones are created and assembled as well.

The Foundry is now looking forward to new challenges…