This weekend, Verbier and Le Chable celebrated the annual Desalpes. This event marks the end of the Summer season, and essentially sees the cattle leave their pastures on the high mountains and move down to the valley. It is also a time of great festivities, food and wine drinking, and a celebration of local produce, with cheese raclette, and fondues a plenty (as well as many different local wines!). Its always such a pleasure to celebrate this changing of the seasons in Switzerland, and the arrival of Autumn means the arrival of game, mushrooms, chestnuts, as well as the dairy produce. Whilst I’m sure that there will no shortage of cream and cheese in the Valais, it has been an incredibly hot summer in which grass has grown slowly, the cows have grazed less, and they say the yield has been much lower than normal. Luckily, this didn’t seem to dull the celebrations!
Saturday saw the procession of local Herens cattle descend through Place Centrale in Verbier, led by shepherds, farmers and a number of well behaved dogs. With cow bells and church bells ringing, it was a real spectacle with the cows even adorned with mountain flowers. On Sunday a judge chose the ‘Best Cow’ in a beauty parade, and after some female cows locking horns with each other, a local Heren queen was crowned.
The desalpes is a truly traditional event, and throughout September and October, it takes place across all the mountain regions of the Valais. We enjoyed it, and with the cows off the mountains, all we need now is the snow! ⛄️It won’t be long!