The descent of the Alpages is a traditional festival of Annecy. It corresponds to the return of the herds from the summer pastures where they have spent the warm season.
A popular and traditional festival
At the beginning of June, the transhumance of the dairy cows in Haute-Savoie begins. For five months, they graze the fatty grass of the pastures to produce the excellent Reblochon cheese. This event is a real tradition for the breeders who equip their animals with bells during the ascent.
After a long winter period in the cowshed, the herds head for the beautiful meadows at altitude. In October, the herds return to the farms. This event is celebrated each year in Annecy by the folk festival of the Descent of the Alps.
This popular festival, also called the return of the Alpages, takes place on the second Saturday of October in the centre of Annecy. In the early afternoon, the livestock start to parade, accompanied by shepherds and folk groups. You will see many breeds of cows (Tarine, Abondance, Montbéliarde), sheep, goats, donkeys and geese.
This parade is composed of more than 600 animals. It starts at the beginning of the afternoon. Numerous events recall the trades of the past and the crafts of our valleys, accompanied by traditional music (barrel organ, accordionists, harmonicas).
It is a very authentic atmosphere, reminiscent of the flavours of yesteryear. Savoyard dishes are honoured, such as diot au vin blanc, tartiflette and polenta. You will be able to taste these culinary specialities thanks to the numerous food stands.
For the inhabitants of Annecy, it is also a way to celebrate the arrival of autumn in a festive and friendly atmosphere.
You will find podiums with folk groups all along the route in the Old Town. Each year, a beautiful poster is offered for sale by theAnnecy Traditions Association which organises the event. This festival attracts more than 120,000 spectators each year.
We advise you to park outside the centre of Annecy and to prefer walking and taking the bus. Many tour operators offer the descent of the Alps in their catalogue.
The 2022 edition
“Les Alpages le Retour” is the name given to the2022 edition of the Alpages descent by the Annecy Traditions association. After two years of cancellation due to the health crisis, Annecy’s not-to-be-missed event has once again taken place.
Between 80,000 and 100,000 people were expected for the occasion. The curious were able to see the 300 sheep, shepherds’ dogs, horses and fifty or so cows parade through the streets of Annecy’s Old Town.
The 2021 and 2020 editions
Due to the health crisis, the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Descente des Alpages have been cancelled.
The event attracted more than 80,000 people from France and abroad, and the health regulations in force at the time could not be respected. Although the Descente des Alpages did not take place, a poster was published for the occasion. It is signed by Christophe Caterineau.