Set in the charming town of Charmey, Switzerland, is a grand Swiss tradition takes place each September: Des Alpes (“from the Alps”) celebrates the descent of local cows from the Swiss Pre-Alps to graze in lower altitude pastures. It is symbolic of the end of summer and beginning of cooler autumn days in the region.
Charmey is located in the La Gruyere district in western Switzerland. It is well known for its lush natural beauty and picturesque views. This district remains a popular tourist destination for those looking to experience Swiss traditions and culture.
The Des Alpes festival attracts people from around the world and offers Charmeysiens an opportunity to display their village and traditions. Smells of food and sounds of music fill the fresh, crisp air. It is a festival for families of all ages that includes the parade of cows, a local market, and musical performances.
The cows descend in clusters from morning until late afternoon. Each cluster is herded by local farmers dressed in traditional garments and is paraded through the town’s main street. Onlookers will be delighted by the sight of the festooned herd, decorated in flowers and massive cowbells! Families cheer as the parade goes by and children sprinkle the street to get a closer look at the spectacle.
Visitors shop at the outdoor food and craft market during the pauses between parade clusters. The varied booths offer everything from wooden cow souvenirs to regional cheese selections. Under a large tent, you will find Swiss pastries, beef, and breads to tempt your palette.
Inside the tent, the atmosphere is carefree and casual with the sounds of an accordion band. Hungry parade goers fill the wooden tables and feast on regional fare. Beer and wine are staples at this Swiss festivity and certainly add to the gaiety of the occasion!
Des Alpes in Charmey is a favorite festival for children and tourists alike. Enjoy the charm, beauty, and tradition that this modest Swiss village has to offer.