When you see all the sweetshops in town displaying chocolate pots emblazoned with Geneva’s red and yellow coat of arms, the Escalade Festival cannot be far off.
This historic celebration commemorates the night of December 11-12th, 1602, when the people of Geneva defeated the troops of the Duke of Savoy as they attempted to scale the city walls in a surprise attack (hence the name escalade which means scaling).
Legend has it that a brave woman, seeing the attackers scaling the wall, tipped her cauldron of boiling vegetable soup out of the window, over their heads. This roused the town citizens, calling them to battle. And so, the Duke and his army were defeated.
The chocolate cauldron (marmite in French), which is filled with marzipan vegetables, is a symbol of this victory!
Every year, Genevans celebrate this victory with the Escalade festival, a weekend of family-friendly festivities that take place mainly in the Old Town: parades, chanting, cannon fire, battle re-enactments and loads of mulled wine, soup, and chocolate! The highlight of the festival is a torch lit procession with locals dressed in period costumes, complete with pikes and lances, parading through the streets of the old town, on foot and on horseback, to the sound of fifes and drums. The procession ends with a huge bonfire in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral.
There is also a race through the old town, the Course de l’Escalade, which takes place the weekend before the festival.
The most delicious part of the tradition comes at the end of the weekend, when the chocolate pot is smashed into bits and everyone can finally enjoy the sweet taste of victory.
If you’re coming to Geneva for the Escalade Festival or the Escalade race, why not take advantage of our special offer Experience@Tiffany to make it a truly special weekend stay?
Fête de l’Escalade
December 11 to 13th, 2015.
Course de l’Escalade
December 4-5th, 2015