Cattle descent from Swiss Alpine in Charmey, to like or not to like?

Cattle descent from Alpine pasture is one of the many traditional festivals that are celebrated every autumn in different location all over Switzerland. The cows are coming home after have been spending about 100 days eating grass high up on the Swiss mountains and that need a real celebration. The cows are decorated with flowers and pines, the farmers are dressed traditionally, the men are blowing on their alphorn and the women are looking like Heidi. Sound so much fun! Never been to such a festival before in spite of over 13 years living in Switzerland, so this year we decided to have a look at the cows in Charmey. How fun!


But was it fun?


We arrived around 10am at the parking lot in Broc and about the size of two football fields were already full of cars. It cost 10chf to park but with that parking ticket you get shuttle ride to the Charmey village and back. It was well organised and everything went smoothly. Within 10 minutes we were drop off by the village.

The car park with the Chateau de Gruyère behind.

Once we got dropped of by the village there were already much people a head and we came just in time to catch a glimpse of cows decorated with colorful paper flowers attached on their head walking down the main road. What we thought was going to be over hundreds of cows it was instead only about ten. The cows were very cute but somehow we were expecting to see more out-of-the-ordinary and carnival-kind of ornaments. Afterwards we have heard that this is not the case which we now understand and respect!

If you miss one herd of cows, don’t worry because there are other herds walking down every half an hour or so. There is a schedule available.

Are these mini hats a la mode next spring do you guys think?

As expected there were so much people and at some point it was almost impossible to advance. I think David slap one or two person with our baby carrier Deuter, not on purpose of course. Once out of that mess we arrived to the heart of the village with stands selling a bit of this and a bit of that. It was nothing we haven’t seen before, just like the ordinary weekend market in Lausanne or Bern that we are used to.

But there were some stands we found interesting such as the alphorn station where we could test blow an alphorn.


You could taste and buy cheeses from the region.

Good luck getting to taste that free cheese fondue! It must be that good because people were fighting over it…or was it because it was for free?

The caramel was delicious!

Perhaps a souvenir to your family and friends?

Or this? I find them cute!

By the telecabine station, there was a small kids corner with a small air castle and free balloons. It was packed with kids of course.

Or if you have patience there was aswell pony riding.

Lucky there were enough of toilets!

That said, David had to stand 45 min in line for this blend and expensive Swiss food.

So was is fun?

It was nothing wrong with the ambiance, there was music playing, the weather was perfect and people were laughing but both David and I felt that the cattle descend festival in Charmey was missing something extra. I can’t tell exactly what it is.

Perhaps they could have put a bit more effort decorating the village? Perhaps make a single descent with all the herds with few minutes between them instead of ten cows now and ten cows thirty minutes later. I don’t really know, we can’t  put a word of what was missing for us.

Yes it was fun to finally see the festival and Mirabelle enjoyed it a lot! However, David and I wouldn’t go back to Charmey next year but we are willing to try another Cattle descend festival somewhere else in Switzerland.

And you guys, have you been to one Cattle descend from Swiss alpine? Where was it and how was it?



Family Earth Trek


  1. Also, the cheese wheels look delicious. I always have a soft spot and can’t resist some cheese! I know you didn’t find it fun, but I’d still be interested to go to something like this. I’ve never been before.

  2. I love learning about different festivities. I’m living through your photos here and Thank you for taking us with you on this event!

  3. I have not traveled to Switzerland, so I have yet to experience this! I love all the decorations the cattle wear and all the traditional clothing that the people wear. Oh and I also love cheese, so I’d be trying and buying a lot of that!

  4. I believe that it was something different and cows really looked adorable with those hats and decorations. But yes descent should have been together with a gap of max 3-4 minutes, so that the charm remains..Just 10 cows once and then 30minutes, that blows away the charms. Still a good experience to have.

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