Le Retour des Alpages avec la famille Cho

Our great friends the Cho’s are here for a visit.  Which is fairly interesting since they planned their trip before we planned on moving here.  Works out pretty nice.  Since we’re still at the Simoni’s house – it’s kind of like we’re standing in for them – as some kind of surrogate hosts.

On Saturday we drove to Annecy – an amazing town sitting right on a crystal clear apline lake about 50 km south of the Swiss border.   We had no particular reason to go this weekend – but did it ever work out.  I started to suspect there might be something going on when we drove in and there were dozens of tour buses parked along the road leading towards the lake.  It turns out it was Le Retour des Alpages – the festival that celebrates the annual return of animals (and their farmers) from the high-alpine pastures back down to the valley.  It is apparently a festival that is deeply steeped in the traditions of the area, so the streets were covered with artisans, traditionally made local dishes, music, and lot more.  Well, actually the streets were literally covered with straw etc. as the animals had been paraded through the town earlier in the morning.  

We saw apple juice being made on the street with a giant wooden press, a potter making his wares, woodworkers, carvers, women spinning wool next to the pen where the sheep had just been shorn, alpenhorns, yodelers, donkeys walking down the streets and so much more.  

The Cho’s treated us to a great lunch of local dishes: fondue, tartiflette (a baked dish of potatoes, cheese, cream & ham).  Delicious.

After wandering around the city centre for most of the day, we rode the mini-train along the lake (as in 20-30 cm from the edge of sidewalk that just drops to the lake) back to the cars and headed home.

So I figure I’m about due for French citizenship: I had crepes for breakfast, fondue for lunch at about 2:30, celebrated le retour des alpages, and had supper at 10:00. Seriously – what more do they want from me?