Désalpe de Charmey
Désalpe is an autumn custom in Switzerland, where transhumance is celebrated. This means that cattle are brought down from their uphill summer pastures into towns and villages in Switzerland for the winter, after grazing up in the mountains for four months. This descent into the towns to rejoin their winter farms prompts street festivals and enjoyment of food, drink and live music by everyone from far and wide.
A Swiss living tradition in the Gruyère region
Désalpe de Charmey, which takes place in the village of Charmey in the world-famous cheese-making region of Gruyère in Canton Fribourg, reflects the continuity of very old traditions and has garnered worldwide renown. Are you ready to witness a living tradition?
The cows are dressed with decorative cowbells and headdresses and the farmers, herders and other villagers wear the traditional Swiss mountain attire as they walk towards the village, with spectators cheering them on.
In the town, there are numerous stalls selling the fine cheeses that are made the traditional way in the mountains, so food-lovers can stock up on local speciality cheese. There is plenty of live music during the event, with traditional Alpine horns, brass bands and local orchestras bringing vibrance to Charmey.
Other transhumance farming festivals in Switzerland
Désalpe de Charmey is arguably the best-known of the traditional désalpe festivals. There are similar festivals of a similar nature in other towns, also called “ désalpes”, celebrating transhumance or the seasonal descent from the mountains, in the Swiss villages of St Cergue, L’Etivaz, Samsales, Albevue and more.
Plan your visit to Désalpe de Charmey
Charmey is located in the region of Gruyère in Canton Fribourg. It's worth visiting this event whilst taking time to enjoy the beauty and dynamic nature of the area, with its lakes, hiking trails, thermal baths and world-class cheese. Check out the Gruyère visitor website for more information about Désalpe de Charmey.