Friday, October 02, 2009

Day Nine - Désalpe @ Charmey

My father is a dairy farmer, and once a year he would gather up all the newly born calves and transport them to another part of our farm, so they could be weaned from their mothers. In my memory this was considered a big day, as the other part of our farm was a couple of kilometres down the local highway, so a truck would be bought in the transport all the calves. Exciting times!

The Swiss, however, have made the movement of cows an art form. Each year, at the end of summer, the cows are decorated with enormous bells and flowers, and are gaily walked down from the sunny mountain peaks where they have been happily munching the grass all summer to the lower pastures, where they will reside in winter. Dressed in traditional costume, farmers and their friends accompany the cows down the winding mountain roads, while the villages below get their finest to cook sausages and pour beer in anticipation of the festival they call désalpe. Traffic is blocked off for miles around, which on a curvy mountain road with no overtaking would normally be considered about as welcome as a fly in your fondue, but it is all taken in good cheer, with most people jumping out of their cars to take happy snaps, and cheer the cows and farmers as they languidly make their way down from the alpine peaks.

I may have done a bit of cheering and photo snapping myself!

And perhaps indulged in a sausage or two!


  1. Love love love the cows!!

  2. The sound of all those bells clanging as the cows walk .......

  3. Anonymous4:46 pm

    Hi there. I have just caught up with your blog. Have enjoyed reading about your journey and seeing the pics. Best wishes Irene.

  4. Having married a Swiss and lived there for 7 years your photso are such wonderful reminders of Swiss traditions. the sausages are what my husband misses the most here in Australia - so please indulge and have a few Bratwurst (white ones) for him and a few Klopfer (red ones) for me!
    Enjoy your travels - you and Grumbles look like you are having a sensational time.

  5. Hullo Jorth
    Armchair traveller and lurker here - I have just tagged your blog with an award on my blog, hope you don't mind!


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