La descente des alpages, a not-to-be-missed event in Haute Savoie
The Grande Descente des Alpages d’Annecy is an event that takes place every second Saturday in October. It marks the end of summer and celebrates the beginning of autumn. On this day, the livestock head back down to the valley to spend the winter in the warmth of the mountains, after having enjoyed the good mountain pastures during the fine weather.
This historic event brings together a plethora of never-before-seen activities. On this famous day, the streets of Annecy become a place for a parade of herds of all kinds: cows, sheep, donkeys, horses, ponies and so on. Animals returning to the valley are accompanied by shepherds in traditional dress and folk groups. The descent of the mountain pastures is also an opportunity to discover old trades and local products from the Annécien region. Finally, traditional instruments (bells, horns and accordions) fill the air with a festive hubbub.
Alpine pastures festival, organized in previous years
It’s worth remembering that the Alpine descent was cancelled for 2 years and made a comeback last year. And so, on Saturday, October 8, 2022, Annecy once again celebrated this great day. The last edition was called “Les Alpages le Retour”. A variety of events and activities attracted visitors to Place François de Menthon, Rue Sainte-Claire and opposite the Courrier shopping center.
Animals in the city
At the previous event, the traditional animal parade began at 2:30 pm. The herds set off from the Faubourg Sainte-Claire and made their way through the streets of the town on a 2.5 km loop.
Visitors were treated to a procession of cows of various breeds (Tarentaise, Abondance, Montbéliardes, etc.), goats, sheep, Loire donkeys, Passaquay geese and dogs – including Bernese Mountain Dogs and Saint Bernards. Gentianes de Beaufaron and Feug’s horse were also present.
The parade down from the mountain pastures was rounded off by horn players from Savoie, Haute Nendaz and Les Ponts de Martel, as well as the Trompes de Chasse de Poissy. Last but not least, the Savoy Brigade and l’Écho de montagne were among the groups providing musical entertainment.
The Festival des bêtes took place in Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Rue du Pâquier and Rue Vaugelas. The Old Town was bustling with activity, while Rue de la Gare offered a quieter space in which to enjoy the entertainment.
Events in the heart of Annecy
During the descent from the mountain pastures, the Annecy-Tradition association organized a variety of activities, including tastings of local products such as diot au vin blanc and tartiflette, demonstrations of traditional crafts and cheese fondue competitions.
Some of the performances that brought the last edition of the 2022 Alp Descent to life include:
- accordionists from the Val d’Arve(place Sainte-Claire) and the Val de Thônes (place Notre-Dame);
- Aravis yodeler Magalie (podium de la République);
- Tyrol’Alpes (podium at Saint-Maurice church) ;
- Bulles d’Air (podium on rue Joseph Blanc) ;
- Barrel organ, songs and accordions (rue Filaterie).
One of the events that particularly captivated visitors was a sheep-shearing demonstration by Tradimontagne and the young farmers’ farm in Place François de Menthon, opposite the Courier shopping center. Background music: the Flash Harmonicas and the Harmonica Savoyard.
Where are the best parking lots for parking on the Alpages descent?
For 2023, this event will be held on October 14. Finding a parking space close to the parade routes and the various demonstration sites during the descent from the Alps is proving to be a mission impossible. The best way to park your car if you want to attend this festival is to find a parking lot far enough away from the Old Town and take public transport to get there.
Here are the best places to park so you don’t miss the descent to the mountain pastures:
- Silo parking lot at the Parc des Sports. You can then walk to the city center;
- The parking lot at the little port of Albigny ;
- The parking lot at 20 avenue du Parmelan.
To avoid parking problems, get to the site on foot, by bike or by bus. Arrive well before 9am.
The choice of accommodation
The descent from the mountain pastures is a historic event of great cultural value. It attracts almost 100,000 visitors from all over France (Haute-Savoie, Grenoble, Lyon, Strasbourg) and other countries close to the Alps (Italy and Switzerland).
Accommodation in Annecy fills up fast as October approaches, especially around the 14th. So if you’d like to watch the animal parade, book your accommodation well in advance.
How about staying in our apartments? Not only will it be an opportunity to come to Annecy for the descent from the mountain pastures, but also to spend a weekend or several days exploring the Haute-Savoie region with your family. These furnished apartments on the shores of Lake Annecy are the ideal place to stay, with a choice of 8 comfortable, well-equipped apartments ranging from studios to t4s.