WHAT TO DO DURING THE FÊTE DE L’ESCALADE?
Smash the biggest “marmite en chocolat” you can afford, and enjoy it with family and friends. There are little sweets with tiny fire crackers inside in the shops too – but personally, we’d go for the chocolate.
Marmites can be bought in supermarkets and chocolate shops throughout Geneva.
LOOK THE PART – DRESS UP
Throughout the whole weekend, the Compagnie 1602 will reenact scenes from 1600s in the Old Town. Expect to see historical figures in traditional costume, including horsemen, soldiers armed with ancient guns such as the musket and arquebus. There will also be demonstrations of ancient skills throughout the weekend. Feel free to dress up – be as creative as you want! More details about the events can be found here (in French only).
For dress up costumes – read this article on our site.
You can find the weekend’s full programme on this site.
WHAT TO EAT
Try some spit-roast pork, old-style sausages, lentils and the typical vegetable soup with hot apple juice and mulled wine.
These historical treats will be on sale throughout the city, including Place de la Treille and the St Peter’s Courtyard.
WATCH THE PARADE
See the procession of around 800 people in period costumes marching or riding through the Old Town on horseback on Sunday. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1600s, or at least imagine yourself on a movie set for a historical period film.
The parade starts at the Parc des Bastions and 5pm and ends at the St Peter’s Cathedral courtyard at 7.30pm.
Best vantage points: Take a seat at one of the cafés at Place du Bourg-de-Four, or defy gravity and climb to the top of St Peter’s Cathedral for a bird’s eye view.
A MARCH BY LANTERN LIGHT open to all takes place on Satuday at 7.45pm.
Departing from the Rue de l’Evêché 1, where you can buy your lantern from 18h30.
You are going to need to warm up as it will be freezing outside. You may wish to either get a bowl of veggie soup at one of the various stands set up throughout city, or bring your own in a thermos. If you’d like to cook your own – check out the recipe on the Geneva Tourism website here (this one includes bacon) and recruit the kids to help chop the vegetables. And of course, nothing warms you up like a cup of vin chaud. Why not raise a cup and join the crowds in humming the C’e que’ laino (traditional anthem, meaning “Ah la belle Escalade!”) – life’s too short to learn the words, but if you’d like to challenge yourself, click here for the full lyrics. Those looking for a heftier meal will be pleased to find another favourite as part of the festivities – ham on the bone.
Check out the secret Passage de Monetier – not for the faint hearted. The Passage de Monetier, a path that runs through the Old Town’s walls, is only open once a year, during the Escalade. Find the entrance to the passage at rue du Perron 19 – as a bonus you’ll receive a glass of hot vin chaud at the passage’s end (Saturday 7th, from 10h to 22h and Sunday 8th, from 10h to 17h). Be prepared to wait in line!