Fête de l’Escalade, Geneva 2011…

So this year was the second time that I watched the procession of the Fête de l’Escalade in Geneva. Initially, I was not sure whether we would get to watch the procession at all as the hubby was thinking of going home early, intending to catch only a tour of Passage Monetier (which runs along the medieval fortifications and is open only on the occasion of l’Escalade). However since we arrived too late for the tour, we ended staying to watch the procession instead … not only from one vantage point … but from two!! hehehe … 🙂

Yup, we decided to catch the procession one more time at another venue as we had unknowingly chosen the wrong spot to catch the procession the first time … which was not far from Parc des Bastions, where the procession started! Haiizzz …

I have to admit that I was quite peeved when I saw a group of the procession participants suddenly taking up position exactly in front of us just before the start of the procession, thus effectively blocking our view. As a result we could not enjoy the parade fully. So I was quite glad when the hubby suddenly suggested … while we were walking towards the railway station … to wait for the procession at another venue (along the way to the station) so that we could watch it once again. Oh yesss … !!

For our second spot, we chose a place that was brightly lit so that we could see the procession better … and also be able to take better shots of it with our cameras (as we have problems taking good clear photos at night … because both of us had not really learned how to do so! ish, ish, ish …)

Anyway, if you are interested in knowing the story and history to this Great Historical Procession of Geneva … you can read about it from my entry on the fête, last year … so that I do not have to repeat myself here and sound like a broken record lah! 😉

For this entry, let me just share the photos that we took during the fête, instead, okay? So enjoyzzzz …

Arriving in Geneva … just in time for a different kind of fête … after the birthday fête at the parents the night before! The Russian Church (left pic) seen shining so brightly, illuminated by the evening light … as we made our way towards the old town after being dropped off by the parents not far from it.

We could see the big crowds as we got nearer to the old town in Geneva … and spotted these two young ladies all dressed up in the costume of the period sitting down at one of the benches … I suppose to rest and relax before the start of the main event which was at 5.00pm and would last until 8:30pm.

The young ones … getting  ready and preparing themselves for their role during the procession. I could just feel their excitement!

Well … even the not so young ones were looking quite excited … as they waited for the start of the procession lah! They certainly looked spiffy in their 16th century costumes, do they not? 🙂

Even before the start of the grand procession itself, there were already some small groups going on all over the old town both on Saturday and Sunday … as part of the many fête activities during the 3-day event.

A group of torch carriers … seen leaving the compound of the compagnie to make their way to the start of the procession at the Parc des Bastions.

Making our own way to Parc des Bastions down Rue Saint-Léger together with many others.

A long line of onlookers who had staked a spot from the top of the garden wall of Palais de l’Athénée ... where they would be able to see the procession unhindered, from the top.

Seeing the crowds in the Parc des Bastions, where all the procession participants were gathered … we decided to give it a miss and instead went to find ourselves a viewing spot not far from the park … thinking that we would then be able to leave early as soon as the whole procession had gone past us!

We decided to pick this spot at a junction between Rue Saint-Léger and Rue Jean-Gabriel Eynard …

… thinking that we would then be able to see the procession coming (from the right) and leaving Rue Jean-Gabriel Eynard (up the slope). Quite a good idea, would it not seem so?

Well … for a while, it was a good spot to be standing at … because we got to see quite a bit of action along this stretch …

… mainly because many of the participants had to go through it to get to Parc des Bastions where the procession would start … including Mère Royaume carrying her marmite (cauldron) … and even a figure looking like Jean Calvin (the French Protestant reformer who had fled to Geneva and helped the city become a bastion of Protestantism in the 16th century)!

And then when I saw them starting to lit up the torch sticks and coals in readiness for the start of the procession, I was so excited! Well, I was … until the leader of the torch-carriers started ordering the group of young torch-carriers, who were initially standing on our right, … to move further to the left, thus obstructing our view!! Sheeshh … what the …??

And so this what we ended up seeing of the procession, as a result!! After all,  as you might know, I am not very tall … err,  okay, okay, in fact, I am not tall at all … and can even be call a shortie!! Soooo … aaargggh …!!!!

The only good thing was that these torch-carriers did not stay there permanently but would leave one by one to accompany each group so as to help to lit their way as it became darker and darker.

So as they slowly left one by one to accompany the different groups, we were able to see the procession much better … but only the tail of the procession lah! Haizzzz …. so disappointing. 😦

Luckily the hubby changed his mind about going home early and suggested catching the procession one more time at another venue … where I got to see the procession properly, this second time … yeayyy! Thanks hubby dear … mmmmmuahhh … !!! 😉

Making our way towards Bel Air Cité, where we were hoping to catch the procession making their way through Rue de la Confédération … as the procession passes through the places inside the old town where the Escalade took place. An old fountain is found at the bottom of Rue de la Cité.

This fountain … erected in 1857 on the site of some particularly fierce fighting that took place during l’Escalade … pays tribute to the lives lost and shows (on this side) a French soldier scaling a wall.

There was quite a huge crowd along Rue de la Confédération … with everyone waiting for the procession to come through this way … which was expected to be around 6.00pm. Of course, it is not possible for the procession to reach the venues indicated on the programme exactly on time … and it only did so after more than 15 minutes later. But at least this time round, we had a good view of the procession … so the waiting was worth it lah!! 🙂

As soon as we saw these lantern sellers coming through Rue de la Confédération, we knew that the procession would be following suit.

And true enough … we later heard the music and soon saw the first of the procession … a drum corp of the Escalade, followed by the flag-bearers and then the rest of the entourage.

Enjoy these photos of the procession …

The notables, the magistrates at the helm of the government in 16th century Geneva and clergymen … walking past (left).

The procession emphasises the role the women actually played during the attempted storming of Geneva as well as in the 16th century Geneva in general.

Various figures underlining the importance agriculture played in the lives of 16th century Genevese.

Figures pointing to wine-making and food-collecting … two important activities in those days.

Figures representing the soldiers who defended the city against the French assailants.

A ladder, representing the very tall, portable ladders (which would be assembled from smaller parts) the Savoyards had used to scale the walls.

And finally … to close the procession entourage was another group of Geneva flag bearing boy scouts. For those who were interested, they could follow the procession to the end point at St Peter’s Cathedral … which took about three hours from start to end! So … make sure you wear comfortable shoes if you intend to do so!

As we were passing through the Pont the la Machine (recently renovated by the hubby’s brother) on the way to the railway station … I saw that there was a beautiful full moon that night. So … naturally I had to stop and try to take some shots of it lah! But we were not the only ones who did so … because I later saw a few others who did the same after noticing the beautiful moon in the sky! 🙂

By the way, I also did not forget to snap one of the most popular items during the fête … la Marmite de l’Escalade!

Some of the chocolate marmites that were on sale at the confectionaries during the fête … of varying sizes, designs and colours. If you are thinking of getting your hands on one, please note that these marmites do not come cheap. The bigger and the fancier the designs, the more expensive they are! That small one on the display case could easily cost nearly CHF30 … depending on the types of marzipan vegetables inside the marmite. A cheaper alternative is to get them from the supermarkets (where they are mass produced) rather than from the confectionaries.

And of course, you can get them even cheaper if you buy them … after the fête … which was what the hubby did! hehehe … 🙂

He came home with a small one the next day after seeing that they were on offer! Of course the marzipans inside were not as fancy as the one that we bought for the daddy-man’s birthday, 2 years ago (click here to see them). But still …  it was a nice souvenir to commemorate the enjoyable fête that we had attended just a day earlier!

Hopefully next year, we will get to see and participate in some of the other activities of the fête … in addition to the procession. Especially, since next year will be the 410th anniversary of the Fête de l’Escalade! Hmmm … let’s hope so lah!

Related entries on l’Escalade:


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