Fête de l'Escalade, a living tradition

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A sort of carnival in Geneva, the Fête de l'Escalade is a mixture of tradition, humour and official commemoration. Costumes, chocolate pots and renditions of the Cé qu'è lainô are all part of this festival that brings the different generations together.


Fête de l'Escalade 2023: find out about the programme!

In the City of Calvin, which does not celebrate the Catholic carnival, the Fête de l'Escalade is not only an opportunity to remember the city’s history but also a time of togetherness. That is why l'Escalade is above all an everyman’s festival, the festival of the people of Geneva.

Traditional events

On 12 December, Geneva comes to life to celebrate one of the days of the year young people most look forward to: the Fête de l'Escalade.

Songs and costumes

Custom dictates that children and teenagers dress up and parade through the streets. In the evening, they knock on doors and sing traditional songs such as the Cé qu'è lainô and Ah! La Belle Escalade in exchange for a few coins.

Cauldrons of soup and chocolate pots

It is also the opportunity to taste the famous chocolate pot in homage to the courage of 'Mère Royaume' who, legend has it, scalded an enemy with her cauldron of soup. Once the ritual phrase has been pronounced: 'Ainsi périrent les ennemis de la République' (so die the enemies of the Republic), custom dictates that the oldest and youngest individuals present break the pot together to discover the marzipan vegetables and sweets inside accompanied by little firecrackers.

In some of the schools, streets and squares of Geneva, steaming-hot vegetable soup is offered to the inhabitants as part of the neighbourhood celebrations.

Follow the story of the Mère Royaume’s real soup recipe on the InterroGE page What is the recipe for Mère Royaume’s soup?

Historical parades

During the weekend closest to the date of the festival, parades representing those distant days commemorate the victory to the sound of fife and drum. Halberdiers, arquebusiers, horsemen and historical characters parade through the streets in medieval costumes. Demonstrations of musket fire, canon fire and handling a halberd are also organised.

Course de l'Escalade

At the start of the month, the Course de l'Escalade race is held in the old town. This less formal event is also a festive occasion. The 'marmite' race involves running while wearing a disguise. It brings together young and old, both in the race itself and to cheer on the participants.

Article modifié le 05.12.2023 à 15:43