December 11, 2016

L'Escalade

Geneva marmite = yum. Australian marmite = yuck

This weekend is Geneva's biggest annual festival, the Escalade. It's a huge (800 person) procession that takes place in the Old Town to mark the 1602 defeat of Charles Emmanuel, the Duke of Savoy, who attacked Geneva in the middle of the night with an army of 2000 men. As the army set up their ladders and began to climb the wall a guard, alerted, fired a musket and the battle began.

Inhabitants woke up, grabbed their weapons and fought back with canons, pikes and mantelets, and as legend would have it, pots of boiling soup.  Ever since, Geneva has marked this day with bonfires, sword fighting, mulled wine and hot soup, musket firing, parades with 17th century costumes, and breaking of the marmite–a chocolate pot that gets smashed by the oldest and youngest members in the room. 

My favourite part is the secret passage way through the city that is opened to the public. Once a year, by the light of lanterns, you get to snake between two walls deep into the heart of Old Town where no one can see you (except for the line of people in front and behind). It's not for the claustrophobic but it certainly creates a atmosphere of the times better than any tour I've ever had. 

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