Le Retour des Alpages 2008

I just returned from the Retour des Alpages festival today in Annecy. I managed to take more pictures than last year, though I didn’t see much of the parade from where I was standing. Once again, I was constantly reminded why I hate being in Annecy when it is really crowded. Usually it’s the little kids who drive me crazy, but today it was the old people. They are vicious when it comes to being in the front row for a parade! Haven’t they seen this parade like 50 times already anyway? Why not let the young people stand in front? Anyway…

This festival commemorates the end of the summer grazing period for the dairy herds in the mountains, so the farmers symbolically bring the animals home for the winter by parading them through the streets of Annecy. Mountain life and Savoy pride are very evident in this festival – Savoy meaning the départements of Savoie & Haute-Savoie in France, the Geneva region of Switzerland and the Aoste valley in Italy which were part of the original Savoy centuries ago before it was annexed to France in 1860 from the Kingdom of Sardinia. And because Savoy was the last mainland area to be added to the nation of France, there are still some separatist groups who believe Savoy should not belong to the Rhône-Alpes région and even some who believe that Savoy should not belong to France.

I have to admit, there are some days where I think I live in Savoy, not France. I see Savoy flags everywhere, which are very similar to the Swiss flag and I feel like I’m actually in Switzerland instead. I’ve always associated the Alps more with Switzerland than France, but I suppose that’s because my stereotypical image of France is more Paris vs. Provence than anything else. I know regional pride exists everywhere in France, from Brittany to Alsace, but in terms of years, Savoyards are the least French of them all.

Swiss horn-blowers provide the music.

CHEESE!!!

I love cows because they give us CHEESE!!!

Let’s start the parade with horses.

Let’s interrupt the parade with an ambulance.

Let’s throw hay on everyone.

Thank goodness for zoom.

He’s not very happy.

These poor cows…

I was told these are Slovakian dancers from our sister city, Liptovský Mikuláš. They were adorable!

I didn’t get any photos of the geese, goats, sheep or any other animal in the parade, but I did get swan vs. dog.

If you haven’t already heard, Annecy is a candidate for the 2018 Winter Olympics. This huge banner will probably be there for the next ten years to remind you.

It was a gorgeous day in Annecy, sunny and 70′s. But the trees and I are ready for fall.

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  • http://off-thebeatentrack.blogspot.com/ India J

    Beautiful post – I’ve linked your blog to mine, (I hope you don’t mind !) – your post is far superior to mine with great photos (I didn’t go, in fact I haven’t been for several years – hate crowds – cranky foul mannered oldies, rude spoilt kids having tantrums and those God awful smells..!)
    I am off now though (hence the unearthly time of this post..!) to the St jorioz Brocante which is great if one gets there early, before the crowds … Bon Dimanche..:)

  • http://off-thebeatentrack.blogspot.com/ India J

    Beautiful post – I’ve linked your blog to mine, (I hope you don’t mind !) – your post is far superior to mine with great photos (I didn’t go, in fact I haven’t been for several years – hate crowds – cranky foul mannered oldies, rude spoilt kids having tantrums and those God awful smells..!)
    I am off now though (hence the unearthly time of this post..!) to the St jorioz Brocante which is great if one gets there early, before the crowds … Bon Dimanche..:)

  • fifi
  • fifi
  • fifi
  • fifi
  • http://babybilingual.blogspot.com/ Sarah

    Gorgeous photos! They make me homesick for Savoie, even though I only lived there (in Chambery) for a year as a college student.

    A few of my friends were from nearby mountain villages, and on visits to their families I was lucky enough to meet several generations’ worth of Savoyards, eat meals made from local products, hear people speak the patois, and even get a ski lesson in someone’s backyard. I can also remember some of the older people telling me that they do consider themselves Savoyard first and French second.

    I had never heard of Annecy’s festival before, and while I agree that hordes of tourists would overwhelm the city’s charm, I’d still like to attend it once! Thanks for sharing, from a francophile who hasn’t seen Annecy in 14 years.

  • http://babybilingual.blogspot.com Sarah

    Gorgeous photos! They make me homesick for Savoie, even though I only lived there (in Chambery) for a year as a college student.

    A few of my friends were from nearby mountain villages, and on visits to their families I was lucky enough to meet several generations’ worth of Savoyards, eat meals made from local products, hear people speak the patois, and even get a ski lesson in someone’s backyard. I can also remember some of the older people telling me that they do consider themselves Savoyard first and French second.

    I had never heard of Annecy’s festival before, and while I agree that hordes of tourists would overwhelm the city’s charm, I’d still like to attend it once! Thanks for sharing, from a francophile who hasn’t seen Annecy in 14 years.

  • Jon

    Jennie,

    I just happened upon your blog when I did a search for Retour Des Alpages. My wife and I lived in Grenoble during the summer and fall of ’06 and happened upon the festival mostly by accident. Annecy was one of our favorite day trips. We popped over there one day and lo and behold they were having a Swiss fest.

    Yes, I made the mistake of getting right into the parade to take pictures and got royally bitched out Savoien. I shrugged ot off and just kept taking pictures.

    You have a great blog. I will bookmark it and check back frequently.

    In tartiflette we trust.

    JMT

  • Jon

    Jennie,

    I just happened upon your blog when I did a search for Retour Des Alpages. My wife and I lived in Grenoble during the summer and fall of ’06 and happened upon the festival mostly by accident. Annecy was one of our favorite day trips. We popped over there one day and lo and behold they were having a Swiss fest.

    Yes, I made the mistake of getting right into the parade to take pictures and got royally bitched out Savoien. I shrugged ot off and just kept taking pictures.

    You have a great blog. I will bookmark it and check back frequently.

    In tartiflette we trust.

    JMT

  • http://francais-bob.blogspot.com/ Jon

    Here’s a little hobby blog I put together while I was over there. You may enjoy the pictures.

    JMT

  • http://francais-bob.blogspot.com/ Jon

    Here’s a little hobby blog I put together while I was over there. You may enjoy the pictures.

    JMT

  • http://francais-bob.blogspot.com/ Jon
  • http://francais-bob.blogspot.com/ Jon

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

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