Autumn in Annecy-le-Vieux. Leaves in the lake. And the ole time festival “Ancilevienne” celebrating the return of the animals from the alpages, the high pastures. Displays of old time farming, old tractors for the kids to play on and farriers showing skills with fire and iron. A quartet of Alphorns playing a lumbering tune in harmony, a rare musical treat amongst the accordions and singers of traditional Savoyard folk songs.
The animals are no longer driven stressfully through the streets but appear in pens. And some young cows are still faced off in a ring, the “Combat des Reines”, Fight of the Queens. I heard a group of Polish spectators betting amongst themselves on which animal would face off all the others to become the “Reine des Reines”, the Queen of the Queens; they told me they’re working on a farm which contributes milk to a dairy which makes the Roblechon cheese. And on the other side of town, there are graffitos of “Savoie Libre”, the slogan of the separatists.
There’s a chill breeze off the lake and insistent splash of waves on the sand as I write this on the beach at Albigny. The mountains are away in dramatic dark clouds... this is the end of summer, they’ll be topped with white within a week, I’m told by a local as we shelter from a shower in a warm boulangerie.