Switzerland’s désalpe (alpabzug) explained

Flower-covered cows take to Swiss streets

In Switzerland, we know the clock will soon strike autumn when processions of cows crowned with flowers and hung with huge clanging bells, descend from summer alpine pastures to their winter barns before the snow comes. Led by cowherds and children dressed in embroidered traditional jackets and dresses, the colorfully bedecked dairy cows come by mountain trails to village streets, where people greet the colorful parades.

The désalpe in Saint-Cergue, Vaud, is one of the most impressive in the country. Around 700 cows, goats, donkeys and dogs walk with their shepherds through the village centre.

The usual colourful flowers adorn the cows, large bells hang around their necks and farmers wear traditional costumes. The spectacle includes whip cracking, flag swinging, alphorn demonstrations and of course cheese. Lots of it.

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