Desalpe is the term used when the cows come down from the mountains in the Swiss alps at the end of the summer season. We were lucky to be in Switzerland with family and lots of cousins for the decent of the cows. They are bought down from the mountains after a few months of summer where they enjoy the green pastures ready for the winter season. You can hear the cows coming by the ringing of the bells a long time before you see them.
The procession of cows arrived in a little village in the alps called Ayer which is not far from St Jean, the village Dad comes from. When in Ayer the cows are handed over to their owners. (This happens in many little villages in the alps during this time of the year). It was very exciting to catch up with cousins I hadn’t seen for many years.
The prized cows are beautifully decorated with crowns of flowers each displaying the award they won while up in the mountains. Some won best milk producing cow, best fighter….
When the cows arrive in the village they are displayed and shown off then set to roam in a paddock while everyone celebrates with a raclette (traditional melted cheese) and a few glasses of Fendant (a white wine) or red if you prefer. Anyway after lots of celebrating and catching up, the cows are taken away by their owners and will feed in the lower pastures and put into ‘les ecurie’ (stables ) during the winter months.
This tradition has been going on for centuries.