One of the fun things about living here has been learning about the many interesting and colorful Swiss traditions. When we heard about one that involved livestock, adorned with flowers, parading through the streets, we (I) simply had to go. As you may have noticed from some of our pictures, Swiss livestock have what seem to be very happy lives, spending many of their days roaming and grazing in Alpine meadows and staying warm in the valleys during the colder months. These animals are not merely escorted up and down the mountain in some mundane, unceremonious fashion; rather, their journeys up (“Inalpe”) and down (“Désalpe” or “Alpabfahrt”) are celebrated with adornment, music, food, and parades.
We had the pleasure of participating in a Désalpe festival in Annecy, a beautiful gem of a city in the French Alps, very close to the Swiss border. We arrived just about as the parade was getting started, so we were greeted by herds of cows, flocks of sheep, gaggles of geese, and lots of enormous Saint Bernards, all adorned with flowers, bells, and bows. The animals were escorted through the streets by many townsfolk in traditional Alpine dress.
After the parade, we meandered with friends through a giant street festival while tasting delicious Alpine dishes and listening to traditional music. It was a truly memorable event that gave us a fun glimpse into Alpine culture, history, and tradition.
During the rest of our time in Annecy, we explored the town and took in its many beautiful sights. The old town is full of cobblestone streets, colorful old buildings, and little canals with pedestrian bridges. Annecy sits next to a stunning, clear blue-green lake and offers a peaceful lakeside park with breathtaking views of the mountains. It was an amazing weekend, and we hope to visit Annecy again.