Les bells! Les bells! Notre Dame set to chime out a fresh sound for its 850th birthday

The bells! The bells! How expert craftsmen are ensuring Notre Dame Cathedral's 850th birthday celebrations go with a BONG
Many of the original bells were looted during the French RevolutionIt is thought the looted bells were melted down to make cannon ballsMedieval foundry in Normandy tasked with making new bells

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UPDATED:

11:12 GMT, 15 December 2012

A French bell foundry in Normandy has cast the final bronze bell of eight huge replacements bound for the
north tower of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The bell, called Anne-Genevieve, was cast using medieval methods at Cornille Havard in Villedieu-les-Poeles on Friday.

The 12th-century Gothic cathedral will inaugurate its set of nine new bells in February, one of the highlights in a
series of events marking the
beginning of the cathedral's 850th anniversary.

Foundry workers ignite escaping gases after the molten metal is poured into the bronze bell mould for Anne-Genevieve

Foundry workers ignite escaping gases after the molten metal is poured into the bronze bell mould for Anne-Genevieve

Workers stoking a furnace to melt the copper and tin mixture to cast the bronze bell

Workers stoking a furnace to melt the copper and tin mixture to cast the bronze bell

Foundry worker Virgine Basseti cleans Gabriel, one of the new bells bound for Notre Dame Cathedral

Foundry worker Virgine Basseti cleans Gabriel, one of the new bells bound for Notre Dame Cathedral

After the
revolution, the north tower's bells were replaced in 1856, but they will
replaced again with bells made of better quality metal that will
produce a clearer sound.

Some of the bells were taken out of
use when it was discovered that ringing them caused the building to
shake, threatening its structural integrity.

The new bells will be inaugurated in February 2013 and will sound on Palm Sunday, a month later.

Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois and Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe joined thousands
of dignitaries, tourists and Parisians on Wednesday for a ceremony and
Mass marking the beginning of year-long commemoration of Notre Dame
Cathedral's 850th anniversary.

Bishop Bernard Lagoutte (centre, on left) and Father Frank Bajada (centre, on right) bless the casting of Anne-Genevieve at the bell foundry

Bishop Bernard Lagoutte (centre, on left) and Father Frank Bajada (centre, on right) bless the casting of Anne-Genevieve at the bell foundry

Employees control the red hot metal as it flows into the mould to cast the bell

Employees control the red hot metal as it flows into the mould to cast the bell

Anne-Genevieve and the other eight new bells nine new bells will be inaugurated in Notre Dame, right, in February 2013 and will sound on Palm Sunday, a month later

Anne-Genevieve and the other eight new bells nine new bells will be inaugurated in Notre Dame, right, in February 2013 and will sound on Palm Sunday, a month later

Anne-Genevieve and the other new bells will be inaugurated in Notre Dame, right, in February 2013 and will sound on Palm Sunday, a month later

Each year, 14 million tourists visit the cathedral, which holds five Masses a day during the week, and seven on Sunday. The structure took nearly 90 years to build

Each year, 14 million tourists visit the cathedral, which holds five Masses a day during the week, and seven on Sunday. The structure took nearly 90 years to build

Speaking outside the cathedral before
celebrating Mass on Wednesday, the archbishop said Notre Dame de Paris
is 'a symbol for Parisians and for people across the world.'

After the Mass, French Interior
Minister Manuel Valls spoke in front of the huge wooden doors of the
cathedral's Portal of the Last Judgment.

Noting
that the cathedral had survived the reigns of '80 kings, two emperors
and five republics,' Valls said the cathedral's 850th anniversary 'is
moving for all who see in its towers the image of France in all its
greatness.'

Each year, 14 million tourists visit the cathedral, which holds five Masses a day during the week, and seven on Sunday. The structure took nearly 90 years to build.

Last September, the largest of the nine new bells was cast at a foundry in Holland.

The six-ton bell, named Marie, was cast in a blend of copper and tin using a centuries-old formula at Holland's Royal Eijsbouts Bell Foundry.

After the revolution, the north tower's bells were replaced in 1856, but they will replaced again with bells made of better quality metal that will produce a clearer sound

After the revolution, the north tower's bells were replaced in 1856, but they will replaced again with bells made of better quality metal that will produce a clearer sound

Many of the original bells were removed during the French Revolution. It is thought the looted bells were melted down to make cannon balls

Many of the original bells were removed during the French Revolution. It is thought the looted bells were melted down to make cannon balls

Gabriel, one of the replacement bells. The largest remaining bell, Emmanuel, has been tolled to mark the end of the First and Second Wars, the liberation of the city in 1944, and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York

Gabriel, one of the replacement bells. The largest remaining bell, Emmanuel, has been tolled to mark the end of the First and Second Wars, the liberation of the city in 1944, and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the cathedral's 850th anniversary 'is moving for all who see in its towers the image of France in all its greatness'

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the cathedral's 850th anniversary 'is moving for all who see in its towers the image of France in all its greatness'

Marie will be a long-awaited replacement
for a much older bell of the same name that was removed during the
French Revolution, when insurgents took over the cathedral and removed
all of its bells except the largest one, which is called Emmanuel. It is
thought the looted bells were melted down to make cannon balls.

Emmanuel has been tolled to mark the end of the First and Second Wars, the liberation of the city in 1944, and major state occasions, as well as ringing on the hour. It was also rung on September 11, 2001 after the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.

The foundry worked with the Technical University of Eindhoven to create computer software that would allow the foundry to design a bell as well as hear it. The shape of the bell determines how it sounds.

The idea is to make music from the cathedral sound as it did before the French Revolution. Experts have found manuscripts indicating what note the original bell would have produced.